Former Japanese Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa announced he will run in next month’s Tokyo gubernatorial race with the backing of former premier and anti-nuclear heavyweight Junichiro Koizumi.

Koizumi has endorsed Hosokawa, a man on the same side of the spectrum as him, for the elections seemingly overshadowed by the nuclear issue. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s largely pro-nuclear Liberal Democratic Party has endorsed former health minister Yoichi Masuzoe.

“I have a sense of crisis myself that the country’s various problems, especially nuclear power plants, are matters of survival for the country,” Hosokawa told reporters on Tuesday. Hosokawa was prime minister from 1993-1993 after his coalition defeated the ruling LDP.

Despite Abe’s remarks that the gubernatorial elections could do without nuclear undertones, Koizumi said the nuclear debate will be front and center in the elections this February.

“The elections will be a battle between a group of people who say Japan cannot advance without nuclear power plants and another group of people who say Japan can,” said Koizumi, who was pro-nuclear for most of his term between 2001 and 2006. He said he has changed his mind since.

“My belief is that Japan will be able to do without nuclear energy, Hosokawa also has the same belief,” Koizumi said. “I will do my utmost so that Hosokawa wins the election.”

Koizumi said the Tokyo gubernatorial election could have “the biggest influence over on national politics.”

“If the Tokyo metropolitan government shows that it can go without nuclear power generation, it will certainly be able to change Japan,” he said.

Masuzoe, who is standing as an independent candidate, said he shares a similar belief with Hosokawa but said the issue should not be Tokyo’s central concern.

“I think most of the public would agree to a society that doesn’t rely on nuclear power,” Masuzoe said, according to The Japan Times. “But what’s important is to think about alternative energy sources once the nuclear energy fades out.”

His key goal, Masuzoe added, is a successful 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

“We didn’t have much good news in the past 20 years during deflation,” he said. “But we will have the Olympics and Paralympics in six years, so I’d like to help Tokyo and Japan be more active (toward 2020).”

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: Huffington Post