Tokyo governor quits to form new right-wing party
TOKYO GOVERNOR Shintaro Ishihara has stunned the world’s largest metropolis by announcing that he is quitting to form a new right-wing party.
Mr Ishihara (80) said yesterday he wanted to realign Japanese politics and scrap its “ugly” war-renouncing constitution, which he has long criticised as “shameful”. “There are many contradictions in our politics,” he said. “One contradiction, bigger than anything, is the Japanese constitution, which was imposed by the [post second World War US] occupying army, and is rendered in ugly Japanese.”
A famously outspoken nationalist, Mr Ishihara sparked Japan’s biggest crisis with China in 40 years by launching a private fund to buy islands claimed by both sides. The plan forced the prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, last month to nationalise the Senkakus, known as Diaoyu in China, triggering anti-Japanese riots across 100 Chinese cities and a boycott of Japanese goods that has cost Japan millions of dollars.
The veteran politician has for years demanded that Japan re-arm, build nuclear weapons and defend itself against what he sees as a resurgent China. He is known to have courted Japan’s leading nationalist politicians, including its rising star Osaka mayor Toru Hashimoto, who is also launching a bid for national power.
Mr Hashimoto is a radical conservative who also wants to dismantle much of Japan’s US-sponsored political architecture. “Not being able to have a war on its own is the most pitiful thing about Japan,” he has said. Like Mr Ishihara, he makes little bones about “standing up” to China.
Japan’s largest newspaper, the conservative Yomiuri, said yesterday that the two men would attempt to form what Mr Ishihara calls a political “third force” with the tiny, ultra-right Sunrise Party. The Tokyo governor said he would discuss returning to national politics with his “comrades”.
The move had political pundits scratching their heads last night. “He may well be deluded,” said political commentator Koichi Nakano. “He probably thinks that he gained more fame as a result of the Senkaku dispute and can be a real force again in national politics. He may also have forgotten that he became governor because he failed in national politics.”