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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Asano waxes friendly, slams Ishihara's slurs

Staff writer

Shiro Asano, a candidate in next month's Tokyo gubernatorial election, promises that if elected, he will work to make the capital a place that is friendly to the elderly, children, disabled -- and even foreigners.

At a press conference Monday at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo, Asano criticized the incumbent, Shintaro Ishihara, for his repeated discriminatory remarks against people of different nationalities, particularly Chinese and Koreans.

"It's a big problem that the governor of Tokyo pointed the finger at specific nationalities and (suggested) the majority of them are criminals," said Asano, a former Miyagi governor.

"Many foreign nationals live in Tokyo because they love Japan. They also pay taxes here, and we shouldn't ignore that," he said. "What will be important is to come up with ways in which we can provide opportunities for them to make full use of their strength for Tokyo and Japan."

Making remarks in both English and Japanese, Asano said he decided to run for the gubernatorial race to stimulate voter interest in politics again.

"They say there's strong political apathy, but I don't think it means people are not interested. It's the result of people feeling powerless and having distrust (of) politics, and I want to change that," he said, adding he intends to run a grassroots campaign that individuals and groups will be welcome to participate in.

Currently teaching local administration policy at Keio University, Asano said he wants more people to get involved in local politics by at least going to the polls.

"A prominent British scholar once said that 'local administration is the school of democracy,' so people should participate," Asano said, adding that getting active in local politics will lead to interest in national politics.

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The Japan Times

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