Never a dull day in Japan, full of (literally) fantastic stories.
This one I thought was a bad joke floating on the net, but it turns out the joke has a real possibility. So far, it is just a possibility, but the anti-nuclear citizens' group "Let’s Decide Together / Citizen-initiated National Referendum on Nuclear Power" set up a committee called "I Change Tokyo", and will interview several candidates on November 8 to decide who to endorse.
From the tweets (here and here) by the secretary-general of the group and a publishing author, reporting on a preliminary meeting they had on November 4:
Seven people made presentations about the candidates they would endorse. [The candidates were] Makoto Yuasa, Hiroko Uehara, Kenji Utsunomiya, Naoto Kan, Taro Yamamoto... We decided to speak with [these candidates] and ask them not only about "beyond nuclear" (脱原発) but 6 issues including nuclear plant referendum in Tokyo and punishment over the national flag and the national anthem.
As this news spread and people were dismayed, a horde of people started filling the net defending Kan by the now familiar refrain: "He saved Tokyo!" "He saved the world!" "Resolute leader!" "He stopped Hamaoka!"
Mr. Makoto Yuasa is a social activist and a former advisor to PM Naoto Kan.
Ms. Hiroko Uehara is a former mayor of Kunitachi City in Tokyo and a Social Democrat.
Mr. Kenji Utsunomiya is a high-profile attorney.
Mr. Taro Yamamoto is an actor turned anti-nuclear activist.
If Mr. Kan is really running for the governor of Tokyo, I guess temporary "downsizing" is in fashion. The boy wonder mayor of Osaka City was the governor of Osaka Prefecture, and now he says he will enter the national politics.
Among other things, I remember Mr. Kan as hiding behind TEPCO in early April in 2011 when they had to dump low-contamination water to make room for the highly contaminated water collected after cooling the broken reactors at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Messrs. Kan (PM) and Edano (Chief Cabinet Secretary) and Kaieda (Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, in charge of NISA) had a middle manager of TEPCO make an announcement in the press conference, instead of them, particularly the "resolute" prime minister, announcing it. The message was clear: the nuclear accident was a problem of a private enterprise, nothing to do with the government. When the neighboring countries got upset that they hadn't been informed prior, Mr. Edano said the Foreign Ministry had sent them a fax.
Some argue that the citizens of Tokyo who elected Ishihara deserve no better. I suppose. But even those people didn't expect disaster debris with radioactive particles, arsenic, and asbestos to be burned right where they lived, thanks to the "resolute" governor.
Other mainstream choices for the coming gubernatorial election? Current Vice Mayor of Tokyo Naoki Inose with the strong endorsement from Mr. Ishihara, and Ms. Yuko Ando, Fuji TV newscaster, as LDP candidate.
The rationale behind the female newscaster is that a woman will be more attuned to what matters to people, kinder and gentler coalition building skills, and other typical blah blah blah. Well that has worked well for the citizens of Yokohama City, whose mayor "attuned" to the people's concerns kept feeding school children with radioactive beef despite protests from the parents.
Laugh and be merry. A laugh a day keeps radioactive cesium at bay.