Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Kenji Utsunomiya: Nuclear-Free, Social Justice Candidate for Governor of Tokyo

Kenji Utsunomiya, former president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, is the embodiment of the best of progressive Japanese nuclear-free political and social vision. 

Last month, the lawyer participated in the November 11 Occupation by 1 Million People Against Nuclear Power Plants" that was hosted by the Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes (an organization that has held nuclear-free rallies every Friday evenings since 3/11). 

His opponents, Tokyo Vice Governor Naoki Inose and former Kanagawa Governor Shigefumi Matsuzawa, want to continue Governor Shintaro Ishihara's neoliberal policies and expensive pursuit of the 2020 Olympics. A Tokyo Olympics would only benefit a few at the expense of the many in a metropolitan area experiencing increasing rates of homelessness and hunger because of structural poverty. Many neighborhoods in Tokyo are best characterized as slums and the homeless find the city's government increasingly hostile instead of supportive. 

Utsunomiya explains, adding that he would support job creation, public welfare and senior citizens: "Ishihara didn't care about enriching Tokyoites' lives. During Ishihara's tenure, the number of those who starved to death or went on welfare in the 23 wards doubled."

Inose, known for his chain smoking, supports smoking in public venues, despite the health consequences to non-smokers. He is also known for personal extravagance at public expense. In 2007, he had a private toilet was installed in his office at a cost of some ¥4.5 million ($50,000). 

Utsonomiya has dedicated his career to challenging structural poverty. As a lawyer, specialized in poverty-related law cases, including helping victims of predatory lending overcome the burden of multiple loans.  He even served as honorary mayor of a makeshift village for homeless workers in Tokyo's Hibiya Park in 2008. 

Utsunomiya has the support of former PM Kan, who supports a nuclear-free Japan. He  said he will cooperate with other municipalities to persuade the central government to go nuclear-free. The poverty lawyer promised to provide support for victims of the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns, promising to offer housing in Tokyo.
I want to push forward with a policy to abolish nuclear power starting in Tokyo...I absolutely cannot approve of nuclear power...


Anonymous said...

I really wanted Mr. Utsunomiya to become a Tokyo governor. I know that my friends and many bloggers I know have voted for him. I was very disappointed with the election results; however, Mr. Utsunomiya and his supporters (volunteers) did a great job of getting 968,960 votes in just 17 days without much, almost no, media coverage.

Now a belligerent, bigoted, and corrupt jerk became a Tokyo governor. I hope things don't get any worse in Tokyo.

TenThousandThings said...

Many thanks; agree that this is just the start of positive change towards a sustainable Japan...The winner definitely got the tobacco lobby and smoking vote...