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Controversial Tokyo Gov. highly popular: poll

Date Posted: 1999-07-30

Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara’s new leadership has met with approval from the majority of his constituents, according to a recent poll.

The opinion poll conducted by the Yomiuri Shimbun showed more than 70 percent of the 1,200 Tokyo residents polled by telephone approve of Ishihara’s leadership. The majority believe he is the right man for the job, but for many voters feel he is not capable of turning around the local economy. They believe Ishihara should concentrate more on local issues, and steer away from issues related to the central government.

Only slightly more than 17 percent said they were unhappy with his leadership, the Yomiuri said.

The controversial governor won the race for the capital’s top post with a landslide 1.66 million votes in April elections, but since his inauguration he has continued to rile opponents and critics and upset the central government with several of his remarks, including those about China.

Some of his most controversial remarks about China include those made on the first day of his inauguration. During a press conference, Ishihara said: “From the standpoint of human rights, I cannot agree with its (China’s) inhumane policy on Tibet,” a comment that earned the 66-year-old nationalist a rebuke from both the central government and China.

His remarks have not been forgotten by voters either, with 64 percent of respondents in the poll expressing their dissatisfaction.

Other remarks that have earned Ishihara a reputation as outspoken and unpredictable, include his call for the joint use of eight U.S. military installations in Tokyo. Among the eight facilities, Ishihara hopes for the return or joint use of the massive Yokota Air Base, situated on the outskirts of Tokyo. The base has a 4,000-meter runway and houses nearly 9,000 military personnel and their families.

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