(UPDATE 9/7/2012) It looks like Hosono flip-flopped. Now he says he is not running. What a surprise. His reason, according to Yomiuri, is just incredible: 2 weeks of campaigning for the DPJ leadership election will distract him from important tasks for the recovery of Fukushima. That recovery hasn't really happened after one year and 6 months, and he wants us to believe this particular 2-week period in September is too critical. (As I said, incredible.)
(H/T anon reader)
Oh what a surprise. (Not.)
These DPJ politicians are indeed from outer space, if they think propping up this man will win them the election. But then, more than half the country's population still rely on newspapers and TV who have started touting him as "Prime Minister-in-waiting".
Goshi Hosono is the one who, as the personal assistant to then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan, admitted in April last year they knew it was a core melt but just didn't feel like telling that to people.
He's also the one who whipped out a craft piece made of disaster debris in front of an angry crowd at the Kyoto JR Station in March this year and said, "Do you think this is contaminated? Do you?"
From Yomiuri Shinbun (9/6/2012):
Mr. Hosono will enter the leadership election of the Democratic Party of Japan
Goshi Hosono (age 41), Minister of the Environment and minister in charge of the nuclear accident, has been treading cautiously so far on whether he will enter the race to elect the president of DPJ to be held (notification on September 10, voting on September 21) on the expiration of term of office of Prime Minister Noda (age 55).
Multiple sources close to Mr. Hosono revealed on September 5. An increasing number of people within the party are hoping for the young Hosono to enter the race, as the "face" of the DPJ in the coming Lower House election. If he enters the race, he is likely to be the single major contender against the prime minster who is seeking reelection.
Mr. Hosono has repeatedly said that he is not considering entering the leadership election. However, he said on the evening of September 5, "We should show that the Democratic Party of Japan has been reborn", indicating he would have no choice but eventually agree to running for the position.
In the early hours of September 6, Mr. Hosono told his people that the approach from the younger politicians [urging him to run] should be "considered gravely. I do think I have to do something to [save] the Democratic Party of Japan." His people said, "There's no stopping now."
It's quite remarkable to read the Japanese mainstream media reporting on this news, whether it is Yomiuri or Mainichi or someone else. They completely ignore what he has done (or rather, not done) in the past year and a half, and there's not a single mention of his handling of the wide-area disaster debris, decontamination effort, or disaster relief.
An earlier Yomiuri article (9/5/2012) captures the thinking of some of the supporters of Goshi Hosono. The anonymous politician in the article quite openly says,
"If Mr. Hosono becomes the prime minister, the approval rate may shoot up to 50%. Before he makes a fool of himself in the Q&A sessions in the National Diet, we will dissolve the Diet at the beginning of an extraordinary session of the Diet [and call for an election]."
Well that's about right.
Mr. Hosono has a book recently published by the way, titled "Testimony - 500 Days of Nuclear Crisis". It's not that he wrote it himself, but he was interviewed by a journalist who compiled the interview into a book. Get it while you can, the book from the Prime Minister-in-waiting.