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Torigoe vows to take 'taxpayer awareness' to heart as he enters Tokyo governor race

Journalist Shuntaro Torigoe speaks at a July 12, 2016 news conference in Tokyo to announce his candidacy for Tokyo governor. (Mainichi)

Journalist Shuntaro Torigoe on July 12 declared his candidacy for the Tokyo gubernatorial election, vowing to take "taxpayer awareness" to heart if he wins the election for the top post of the Japanese capital.

    Torigoe, 76, pointed out at a news conference in Tokyo on the afternoon of July 12 that the affairs of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government have been thrown into turmoil by the resignations of two previous Tokyo governors -- Naoki Inose and Yoichi Masuzoe -- over money scandals. He then said, "Questions have been raised over whether the governors have been running the (Tokyo metropolitan) government while paying attention to how taxes should be used. I would like to firmly take taxpayer awareness to heart and do my work."

    Moreover, Torigoe said, "The remainder of my life is not so long. I would like to devote all my energies to the Tokyo metropolis if I am given a chance."

    Earlier in the day, the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) decided to field Torigoe as its official candidate for the July 31 Tokyo gubernatorial election. The DP will try to coordinate with three other opposition parties in fielding Torigoe as their unified candidate.

    The DP had sounded Torigoe out about running in the gubernatorial race behind the scenes and he gave a positive response to senior DP officials on July 11. The DP had already conveyed its plan to field Torigoe as its candidate to other opposition parties including the Japanese Communist Party (JCP). The four opposition parties are set to hold talks on July 12 on backing Torigoe as their unified candidate for Tokyo governor.

    Former bureaucrat Shigeaki Koga, left, speaks during a July 12, 2016 news conference in Tokyo to announce the candidacy of journalist Shuntaro Torigoe, right, for Tokyo governor. (Mainichi)

    Torigoe told the Mainichi Shimbun on July 12, "I made the decision after seeing the 'pro-constitutional amendment camp' secure a two-thirds majority in the House of Councillors with their election win."

    On July 11, the DP's Tokyo chapter asked Shigeaki Koga, a 60-year-old former bureaucrat of the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, to run in the Tokyo gubernatorial election. But Koga told reporters on July 12 that he had no intention of entering the race, saying, "I will recommend Mr. Torigoe." Meanwhile, former Japan Federation of Bar Associations President Kenji Utsunomiya, 69, who had already declared his candidacy for the race, told reporters, "I have heard nothing from the DP and Mr. Torigoe. I am not wavering in my resolution at this stage." As for the way in which the four opposition parties are picking their unified candidate, Utusnoniya said dismissively, "If they are focusing only on a candidate who can win at any price, they cannot avoid being criticized for forming an unholy alliance similar to the coalition between the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito."

    Hailing from Fukuoka Prefecture, Torigoe graduated from Kyoto University. After leaving the Mainichi Shimbun in 1989, he served as a newscaster for TV Asahi, among other jobs. Torigoe campaigned against security-related legislation, enacted last year, taking part in demonstrations in front of the National Diet Building, among other protest activities. TV Asahi's news program "The Scoop Special," anchored by Torigoe and broadcast in August 2013, featuring Japan's nuclear policy under the shadow of the United States, received a gold medal at the New York Festival's World's Best TV & Films competition.

    The LDP Tokyo chapter decided to endorse former internal affairs minister Hiroya Masuda, 64, who is also a former Iwate governor, as its official candidate for Tokyo governor. Former Defense Minister and LDP lower house member Yuriko Koike, 63, has also declared her candidacy for the race.

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