Yamada wins Kyoto gubernatorial poll
Reviewed By Hitoshi URABE
"Yamada wins Kyoto gubernatorial poll"
In the mayoral election of Yokohama the previous weekend, when a 37 year-old rookie without any support from existing political parties defeated a 72 year-old veteran, running for a third term and backed by the three ruling parties plus an opposition, SDP. It sent a shockwave through the political arena, especially the ruling LDP, which then heavily reinforced the campaign for the gubernatorial election in Kyoto last weekend. (Yokohama election and its report are reviewed in "News Review #19.")
The victory in Kyoto was a relief for LDP and five other parties who jumped on the bandwagon, to see their candidate win, which they claim to indicate that the people had not lost confidence in politicians despite all the scandals recently revealed in both the ruling and opposing parties.
The framework, however, is a little different in case of Kyoto in comparison to Yokohama. One is that all of the candidates in Kyoto were new, and although Mr. Yamada, the winner, had declared that he would generally assume the political agenda laid out by the former mayor, there will inevitably certain level of change in daily execution of policies.
Another dissimilarity is the qualification of the opponents. In case of Yokohama, the winner was a member of the diet, quitting the job to run for the mayor, without any support from any party. On the other hand, in Kyoto, the main contender was a lawyer with full support of the Communist Party. And as Mr. Yamada, the winner, was enjoying support from six, virtually all the parties represented in the central government, including LDP, its two junior coalitions, and three of the opposing parties, there was not much to choose from for those voters who were not affiliated with any of the existing parties. Accordingly, it is not clear as to what extent, if any, people have had become detached to the politics or the political parties.
One interesting fact to note is that Mr. Yamada, the winner, originally from Hyogo prefecture and educated in Tokyo, had been a career bureaucrat at the Ministry of Home Affairs since graduation, and was invited to become the manager of general affairs department at Kyoto prefecture government in 1999, then became a deputy governor of Kyoto last year, only to quit this February to run for the governor. The process is not uncommon in Japan, and there is nothing improper about it, but it might look somewhat peculiar in the light of western way of thinking. A somewhat similar setting, a victory by a former central government bureaucrat, was seen in a smaller scale at the mayoral election of Wakayama City, also held last weekend.
There will be two elections coming up on 28th to choose diet members from Wakayama and Niigata prefectures. As it is a national election, the rulers and the opposition will be competing head on. The results should present good indications of the peoples' ideas.