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Friday, Dec. 8, 2006

Ishihara tells Tokyo he wants third term


Staff writer

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara officially announced his decision Thursday to run for a third term in next April's gubernatorial election.

News photo
Shintaro Ishihara KYODO PHOTO

"I have worked for nearly eight years trying to change the country from Tokyo," Ishihara, first elected governor in April 1999, told the metropolitan assembly. "I will continue to give everything I have and take charge of managing the city."

The hawkish governor, notorious for racist and sexist remarks, has been under fire recently for spending too much on an official visit overseas and for calling the victims of bullying weak. But he is already the front-runner in the race.

"The renaissance of Tokyo is still half way through, and things have just begun," Ishihara said in his announcement to the assembly, which responded with applause.

The governor has been lobbying hard to bring the 2016 Summer Olympics to Tokyo.

"The Olympic Games will be a great chance for Japan to show its vitality to the world again," Ishihara said, adding that if elected to another four years, he will work hard to bring the Games to the capital.

The Japanese Olympic Committee in August chose Tokyo over Fukuoka to be Japan's nominee for the 2016 Games.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the JOC are preparing the application, to be filed with the International Olympic Committee in July.

The winner will be announced at an IOC meeting in Copenhagen in October 2009.

"I may be getting old, but I feel I should work at least until the Beijing Olympics (in 2008)," Ishihara told reporters after the assembly meeting.

Never one to shy away from controversial issues, Ishihara makes frequent trips to Yasukuni Shrine and issued a directive ordering public school teachers and students to stand facing the Hinomaru flag and sing the "Kimigayo" national anthem during school ceremonies. The Tokyo District Court in September canceled the directive and ordered the metro government to pay 12.03 million yen to teachers who had been disciplined for not standing and singing.

The governor, a close friend of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, supports the government's revision of the Basic Law of Education, contentious for its reference to patriotism.

Ishihara, who won the last election without receiving backup from any particular political party, hopes to repeat the feat in April.

"I really don't care whether a party supports me or not," Ishihara said.

Assembly member Ryo Tanaka of the Democratic Party of Japan was quick to pass judgment on Ishihara's decision to run for another term, criticizing the governor for not opting to retire.

"He has no political agenda and is dependent on the Olympic Games," he said.



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