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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Re-elected Ishihara basks in victory after holding tongue, feels vindicated

Staff writer

A feisty Shintaro Ishihara, fresh off his re-election as Tokyo governor, was full of self-praise Monday, claiming the achievements of his first two terms trumped his scandals and won over the voters.

News photo
Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara celebrates his re-election Monday at a news conference. YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO

"I feel like the defending champion who won his boxing match," Ishihara said a day after gaining 51.1 percent, or 2.8 million, of the votes cast.

He defeated 13 candidates, headed by former Miyagi Gov. Shiro Asano, who got 1.69 million votes.

Manzo Yoshida, a 59-year-old former mayor of Adachi Ward backed by the Japanese Communist Party, placed third with 629,549 votes, while internationally known architect Kisho Kurokawa, 73, received 159,126.

Ishihara, who at one time appeared vulnerable amid a series of scandals, including his office's misuse of public funds, revealed that his PR advisers recommended that he avoid "intense expressions" during the campaign.

"It was a good and enjoyable election," Ishihara said triumphantly of the 18-day campaign for his third term.

He said he wants to accomplish his pledges, including campaigning to host the 2016 Olympic Games and promoting shared use of the U.S. Air Force's Yokota base in western Tokyo by military and commercial flights.

On his scheme to transfer the Tsukiji Fish Market to a different area facing Tokyo Bay, Ishihara said, "I've ordered the vice governors in the morning to hire experts and research the toxic level of the Toyosu area."

He also revealed plans to ignore the central government and set the capital's own standards for approving day-care centers to support mothers.

"There is no way I will shy away" from challenging central government policy, the hawkish governor said.

Ishihara earlier managed to institute emissions curbs targeting diesel-powered vehicles and reduced metropolitan personnel expenses by cutting some 20,000 officials from the payroll during his first two terms.

During the latest campaign, however, he was criticized for misusing taxpayer money on luxurious overseas trips and appointing his fourth son as the art director for a Tokyo project in Switzerland.

"What must be reviewed will be reviewed," Ishihara said, adding he will give further effort to promoting information disclosure.

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The Japan Times

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