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Olympics, energy policy among main issues in Tokyo governor race

The first set of opinion polls for the Tokyo Governor race suggests that 40 per cent are undecided as to who to vote for. 16 candidates are running for the position and Channel NewsAsia took to the streets of Tokyo to find out what voters want.

TOKYO: The first set of opinion polls for the Tokyo Governor race suggests that 40 per cent are undecided as to who to vote for.

Of the 16 candidates are running for the position, former Health Minister Yoichi Masuzoe is in the lead, followed by former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa.

It may be six years away, but the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo has become a main talking point in this gubernatorial race set for February 9.

Candidates are vowing to take the opportunity to improve infrastructure in the capital, especially with rising speculation Tokyo might be hit by a magnitude 7 earthquake within the next 30 years. But are issues of infrastructure upgrading and disaster prevention concerns of the public?

"It's social welfare and a good working environment. Not spend too much money on the Olympic Games, but spend it in a way that will be agreeable to the people of Tokyo," said a man.

Another said: "For me it's education. The number of children is decreasing. There's the issue of bullying. There are many problems. They are also social issues. Children come to school carrying with them their family's problems. Raising the issue of education makes one think of the whole society."

Along with these concerns, the gubernatorial election is widely seen as a referendum on Japan's energy policy.

With the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant no longer able to supply energy to Tokyo, there are moves to restart another major nuclear plant in Niigata to service Tokyo's energy needs.

However, the anti-nuclear camp is making its voice heard.

Attorney Kenj Utsunomiya and former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa are some of those speaking out. However, the backing of Mr Hosokawa by the charismatic former Premier Junichiro Koizumi is complicating voters' decisions a little.

It is typical for a political party to back a specific candidate -- in Mr Yoichi Masuzoe's case, it is the Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito. However, Mr Junichiro Koizumi -- who was prime minister and still a member of the LDP -- is backing another candidate Morihiro Hosokawa, also a former prime minister.

According to the Tokyo Shimbun, about 63 per cent of the electorate wants nuclear power gone. And if this group has its way, it is likely to pressure Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to decide against restarting nuclear power. 

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