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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Matsuzawa will seek ban on public smoking


Staff writer

When Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa formally announced Tuesday that he will run for Tokyo governor, he listed a raft of key policy objectives, many of which he advocated in his current office.

Matsuzawa said he will try to get a total ban on smoking in public places, limit governors to three terms and form an administrative alliance with Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama prefectures.

Before becoming governor of Kanagawa, Matsuzawa, 52, was in the Lower House as a Democratic Party of Japan member, but he said he will run for Tokyo governor as an independent.

"I want to give body and soul" in governing the metropolis, Matsuzawa said. "I am determined to devote all of my experience and passion to the creation of a new Tokyo and the resuscitation of Japan."

During his two terms as Kanagawa governor, Matsuzawa proposed a ban on smoking in public places and Kanagawa became the first prefecture to have a no-smoking ordinance covering such public facilities as hospitals, schools and government offices.

He submitted a bill to the prefectural assembly to limit governors to three terms, or 12 years.

Throwing his hat into the Tokyo race, Matsuzawa said he will seek a government alliance involving Tokyo and Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba prefectures to implement policy measures in such areas as the environment, emergency medical services and effective use of Haneda and Narita airports.

As Kanagawa governor, he has worked with Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara to regulate emissions from diesel automobiles.

Matsuzawa said he believes Ishihara won't run again, but that isn't the reason he decided to run in Tokyo.

"I have made a decision as a politician this time, considering which position will enable me to lead the resuscitation of Japan," he said.

Ishihara hasn't formally announced whether he will seek a fourth term, but sources are saying he will be calling it quits.

Speculation is rife that former Miyazaki Gov. Hideo Higashikokubaru will also seek the Tokyo governorship.

Well-known businessman Miki Watanabe and former Upper House member Akira Koike have already expressed their intention to run.

Matsuzawa, who was born in Kawasaki, served as a Kanagawa Prefectural Assembly member until 1993, when he was elected to the Lower House as a member of the now-defunct Shinseito party. He was re-elected twice.

After later joining the Democratic Party of Japan, Matsuzawa drew public attention when he ran unsuccessfully against Prime Minister Naoto Kan in the party's presidential race in 1999.


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