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Japan: Reactions to Tokyo Governor Ishihara's re-election

On April 8 and April 22 nationwide local elections were held throughout Japan, gubernatorial elections on the 8th and local assembly and municipal elections on the 22nd. Among 13 gubernatorial elections, the Tokyo elections attracted the most attention, with incumbent Ishihara Shintarou running for a third term. Over the previous two terms, Ishihara's comments on various sensitive issues, notably on the topics of foreigner communities, crime, and women's issues, have sparked numerous debates in and outside of Japan. Although he won over 50% of the votes, a sizeable group of Tokyo citizens as well as people elsewhere voiced concern and disappointment at the result. Discussions on the outcome continued for a period of time following the election, with bloggers on various sides of the issue presenting their views.

A housewife in her 40s, blogging anonymously, expresses her relief at Ishihara's re-election victory:

まあ、まずは ホッ としました。—-
だって、韓国民団や、北朝鮮礼賛者や社民党やフェミニストの
集団が支持する浅野さんが、まかり間違って当選したら、折角
不法外国人を取り締まったり、日教組に支配された学校から
狂信的な反日教師達を追い出したりしていたのに、元に戻る
どころか、今度は、外国人が偉そうにする都市になっていた
かも知れないからです。

Well, I am relieved…
We have made great efforts to crack down on illegal foreigners and to get rid of fanatic anti-Japan teachers from schools that were controlled by the Japan Teachers’ Union. If Asano, who was supported by the Korean Residents Union in Japan, North Korea sympathizers, the Social Democratic Party and feminist groups, had been elected by mistake, we would have not only gone back to where we were but we would also have had a city where foreigners would feel free to do what they like.

Another blogger, Aiharaharu, comments on the anti-crime and security policies that Ishihara was pushing for during his election campaign:

都知事は、石原さんがいいよ!

何故なら、TV番組のインダビューのコメントを聞いたら、他の候補者よりも治安意識が強いコメントをしていたからである。

治安はいいほうがいいよ。治安がいいと聞くだけで、心がホットしますし。実際犯罪とかって、他人事のように感じるかもしれませんが、いつ遭遇するかはわかりません。

Ishihara is the best person to be the Tokyo governor!

Because, based on comments he made in TV interviews, he has a stronger sense of the need for security than other candidates.

It's better that we have security. I feel relieved when I hear that we have security. In fact, it's like, when you hear about crimes, you think that it's somebody else's business, but you never know when you yourself might encounter them.

特に性犯罪はこれから増える可能性があるので、石原さんに対策を早くこうじて欲しいと思う。専門家の話によると、マスコミはあまり性犯罪については詳しく報道していないと聞く。性犯罪者は、再犯率がかなり高い。しかも、自分の意識では、やめられないそうです。やったら君ら、あとがないよ……というよな対策をこうじて欲しい。また各個人がしっかり自衛して欲しいと思う。

Especially in terms of sex crimes, there is a possibility that the number could increase, so I want Mr. Ishihara to implement measures soon. According to the experts, the media doesn't cover sex crimes in much detail. The rate of repeat offenders among sex offenders is very high. On top of that, they can't stop on their own. I would like to see strong measures to tell these people that if they do this kind of thing they will have no future. And I also think that individuals need to properly defend themselves.

あとは、外国人による犯罪もこれからますます増えると思われる。より東京は、流動化していくので、外国人がやってくる。そうなると東京で犯罪をおこすグループもたくさんやってくるかもしれない。東京は犯罪しやすいと思わせないためにも、外国人による犯罪の対策をもっとしようと思っている石原さんにまた都知事になってもらいたいと思う。浅野さんはやはり中華系の団体に応援を要請したりしているので、危険な要素があります。

Also, people say that crime committed by foreigners will increase more and more. As the flow of people into and out of Tokyo increases, there will be more foreigners coming into the city. When this happens, a lot of groups of people who might commit crimes will enter Tokyo. To avoid giving them an impression that Tokyo is an easy place to commit crimes, I want Mr. Ishihara, who is trying to take measures against crime committed by foreigners, to become the governor of Tokyo again. Mr. Asano apparently asked ethnic Chinese groups for their support, so there is an element of danger.

いろいろ石原さんにも難点があったりしますが、他の候補者と比べると治安に対しての意識が強い石原さんに1票をいれるのは、お買得な気がします。私は、埼玉県民なので、都知事選に参加できません。もし私が都民なら、石原さんに1票をいれています。

There are various problems with Mr. Ishihara, but compared to other candidates, I feel that it's a good deal to cast a vote for Ishihara, who has a strong sense for the issue of security. I myself am a Saitama resident, so I can't participate in the Tokyo gubernatorial elections. If I were a Tokyo resident, I would vote for Mr. Ishihara.

Another pro-Ishihara blogger, momonga_seven, points out that the Olympic bid was a factor in his choosing Ishihara:

今回は迷いもなく私も石原さんに一票を投じましたが、やっぱりこの方しかいないじゃありませんか。
東京オリンピック招致問題は、もし仮に断るような方が知事選に当選したとしたら、日本の国益にとっても重大で、今後開催できないことにもなりかねていたかも知れませんでした。

I voted for Mr. Ishihara without any hesitation this time, indeed he is the only choice. In terms of the issue of the bid for the Tokyo Olympics, if a person who opposed this bid had been elected, it could have been very critical for the Japanese national interest, and there would have been a chance that we would not be able to hold the event.

他の知事立候補者たちは、”オリンピックを中止して福祉にあてるべき”と掲げていたが、具体的な政策内容に乏しいこともありました。
そうでもあるにも関わらず、野党陣営は立候補者をできるだけ少数に持ち込めなかったことも、纏まりもなく原因の一つだと思います。

Although other candidates were saying that “we should cancel the Olympics and spend the money on welfare”, the content of their platforms lacked concreteness. Despite this fact, the opposition parties were not able to limit the number of candidates and there was no solidarity among them, and I think that was the problem.

On the other hand, bloggers like this one, an anonymous blogger from Heiwa e no michi (平和への道), expressed their concern about the political awareness of Tokyo citizens:

石原都知事が三期目の当選を果たしました。今回の選挙結果の意味するものは、東京都民の民度の低さを鮮明に示したということではないでしょうか。これで石原都知事がジャブジャブ税金を浪費しても文句を言えなくなりました。どうぞお好きなようにやってくださいということです。東京都民は、地方のことなど考えず、自分さえよければそれでよいと言う、利己的な人間が多いのでしょう。やはり、落ちるところまで落ちないとわからないということです。

Ishihara won the election for the third time. What the result of this election shows is how low the cultural level of the Tokyoites is. Now no one can complain even if Ishihara wastes our tax money. It's like saying please do whatever you want. Many Tokyoites are selfish people who do not even think about areas outside of Tokyo and are only able to care about themselves. I guess people don't realize until they hit the very bottom.

Blogger Kuni, a Japanese photographer based in the U.S., compares the Tokyo election to the U.S. presidential election in 2004:

すこし前のことになるが、東京の石原知事が再選されたということを知ったとき、2004年のブッシュ再選時と似た、半ば絶望感の混ざったなんともいえない暗鬱な気持ちになった。

A while ago, when I found out that Tokyo Governor Ishihara was re-elected, I felt similar to the way I did following Bush's re-election in 2004, a feeling of desperation mixed with depression that I cannot even describe.

確かに対立候補に魅力が欠けていたこともブッシュのときと同様だが、それでもこのときの大統領選挙では、それが無知を基にしたものであれ、ブッシュを心から信じて彼に投票した、中西部を中心とした保守的アメリカ人たちのれっきとした「意思」によって再選が果たされた。

It's similar to the case of Bush's election, in that it is certainly true that the opposition candidates weren't very appealing. But even so, in the presidential election — although based on ignorance — his re-election was achieved by the will of the conservative Americans, mainly in the American Midwest, who voted for him truly believing in him.

しかし、今回の都知事選挙はそういう「意思」をもった人たちの力で石原都知事が再選されたわけではないと思う。どちらかといえば、都民の大多数の政治への無関心さや軽薄さによって、なんとなく結果的に再び石原都知事を生み出してしまったのではないだろうか?

However, I don't think Ishihara's re-election was a result of the will of these kind of people. More likely, the majority of Tokyo residents’ indifference and frivolousness to political issues ultimately managed to somehow result in governor Ishihara's re-election.

[…]

東京都民は、こういう人間を仮にもリーダーとして持つことに恥ずかしさや怒りを感じないのだろうか?普通に考えれば、こんな人が再選されるなど考えられないはずだ。柳澤厚生労働大臣の暴言のときもそうだが、やはり国民自体がこういう暴言や差別感覚に鈍感になってしまっていて、自分の目先の日常生活には関係がないと無関心に切り捨ててしまっている人が多すぎるのだろうか。

I wonder if the citizens of Tokyo are ashamed of, or feeling angry about, having such a person as their leader. If you think about it, it's hard to believe that this person got re-elected. It was the same when Health and Labour Minister Yagisawa made his insulting comment. The Japanese people have become numb to these kind of insensitive comments and discrimination; there are too many people who just detach themselves from these issues, thinking that they have nothing to do with their lives.

だから、石原都知事の「再選を防ぐため」に投票場に足を運ぶこともしないし、別に誰が知事になったところでそれほど生活に変化はないとたかをくくっているのかもしれない。

Therefore these people were thinking: there's really no point in going to the polling station to prevent Ishihara's re-election, there probably won't be any difference to my life whether or not somebody else gets elected.

無関心でいることは、とても怖いことだと思う。こういう知事を持つことの災難が我が身の上に降りかかってきてから気付いても、もうそのときには、がん細胞の如く都政の破壊は進んでもう手遅れだと思うのだが。。。

I think indifference is a very scary thing. Although you may realize the misfortune of having such a governor when you are personally affected, by this time I think it will be too late, because the damage to the Metropolitan Government, like the destruction caused by cancer cells, will already be well underway.

Finally, many people have cited the comment Ishihara made in 1975 about then-Tokyo governor Minobe:

「前頭葉の退化した六十、七十の老人に政治を任せる時代は終わったのじゃないか?」

The period of time in which an old person in their 60s or 70s, with worn-out frontal lobes, was put in charge of politics is over, isn't it?

As many have pointed out, Governor Ishihara is now 74 years old.

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