Tuesday, Oct. 6, 1998
Staff writerOSAKA -- A comparative lack of local governmental interest, cool relations between the mayor and governor, and an uninspired promotional campaign have greatly dimmed Osaka's bid to host the Group of Eight summit in 2000, senior prefectural officials said recently.Osaka is one of eight cities nationwide competing to host the summit of the Group of Seven industrialized countries and Russia in 2000. Miyazaki, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Sapporo, Yokohama, Chiba, and Nago, Okinawa, also are in the running. The host city will probably be selected at the end of the year or the beginning of next year.Although a G-8 summit would be held primarily within Osaka city limits, the bid is being pushed more by Gov. "Knock" Yokoyama and those within the prefectural bureaucracy who are handling the bid and its promotional efforts in cooperation with the city of Osaka.Cooperation, however, may not be the right word. "We're trying very hard to bring the summit to Osaka. But city officials don't seem to be as interested in the G-8 as they are in the Olympics," said one prefectural official in the public relations department.Osaka Mayor Takafumi Isomura appears to be less than enthusiastic as well, certainly less than the city was in its efforts to win the 2008 Olympics. "Gov. Yokoyama is the one who's really pushing for the summit. We've already hosted APEC (the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum) and we've said we feel ready to host the G-8 at any time," the mayor said in response to a question about Osaka's chances.Prefecture officials say cool relations between Yokoyama and Isomura aren't helping matters. Both men entered office following scandals involving their predecessors, and both were seen as "clean" candidates. But Yokoyama jumped into the 1995 governor's race as an independent candidate at the very last minute, while Isomura was selected by Liberal Democratic Party mandarins.Due to differences in approach and personality, such as Isomura's more cool demeanor and Yokoyama's more open one, the two men are barely speaking to each other, city and prefectural bureaucrats say.The governor's populist appeal and high personal approval rating, which stands at about 65 percent despite the prefecture's financial crisis, also has irked the mayor, a party politician with no popular base of support, prefectural officials claim.