Ebullient Ishihara to seek 3rd term
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has made clear he will seek a third term to help prepare Tokyo for its bid to host the 2016 Olympics.
Ishihara, 73, declared his intention to run for the gubernatorial race next spring after Tokyo beat out Fukuoka on Wednesday to be Japan’s candidate to host the Summer Games in 10 years. The capital will likely compete with Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and other cities.
“I am the one who initiated the bid (to host the Games) so I’m responsible,” an apparently elated Ishihara said when asked if he would run again.
“I’ve made up my mind,” he said.
The second of Ishihara’s four-year terms will end April 22, 2007. The city to host the 2016 Games will be picked in the fall of 2009.
On Thursday, Ishihara met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe and called for “all-out Cabinet support” for Tokyo’s bid.
Abe is the frontrunner in the Sept. 20 race to succeed Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, although he has yet to officially declare his candidacy.
“If you win the (Liberal Democratic Party’s) presidential race, please appoint a minister in charge” of the Olympic issue, Ishihara said.
To prepare for the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, the administration of then Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda appointed a Cabinet minister to take charge of the operation.
Abe pledged government support for Tokyo’s efforts, although on the actual proposed portfolio, he simply said, “the next Cabinet will study the issue.”
Tokyo’s victory over Fukuoka had been expected due to the capital’s superior fiscal strength and name-recognition value.
In his presentation prior to the Japanese Olympic Committee’s selection panel vote, Ishihara suddenly floated the idea of converting a closed Tokyo high school into a national training center for athletes.
He also underscored Tokyo’s resolve to host the Olympics for a second time by saying it would stand again for 2020 should its current bid fail.
However, Ishihara’s trademark volatility came to the fore when Fukuoka supporter Kang Sang Jung, a professor of political science at the University of Tokyo–and a second-generation Korean born and raised in Japan–criticized Tokyo’s Olympic bid.
In his pre-vote speech, Kang provoked Ishihara’s ire by asking, “Can we win over world competitors with an Olympics of the rich, by the rich and for the rich?”
Ishihara replied in his speech, saying: “A scholar of some foreign country said earlier Tokyo has no philosophy. I do not know why.”
The governor then went on to make his displeasure clear later at a celebratory party, when he dismissed Kang as both “impudent” and an ayashigena gaikokujin (dubious foreigner).
Ishihara was first elected governor in 1999, and went on to win 3.08 million votes in the 2003 re-election.