"There were strong forces trying to prevent abandoning nuclear from becoming a campaign issue," Mr. Masuzoe, also a former assistant political science professor, has written several books on the subject, including one on his experience caring for his mother with dementia.
"I felt he would be able to host a successful Tokyo Olympics, that would attract many tourists," saidNoriko Sangu,a 34-year-old dentist who voted for Mr. Koizumi, Japan's most popular prime minister in recent decades and an influential elder in Mr. Abe's efforts to restart the reactors.
The pair created a lot of buzz initially, but failed to gain traction in part because of competition from another antinuclear candidate supported by the Communist Party.
Having served as a health and welfare minister, Mr. Abe: A persistent challenge from Mr. Masuzoe is known for his expertise in elder care, a growing challenge for Tokyo as its population ages. According to a poll by the daily Asahi Shimbun a week before the election, 30% of respondents said the economy and jobs were the most important issue, followed by 25% who named health care and welfare.
Mr. On Sunday, the city's transportation systems were still partially paralyzed and roads were slippery.
"My experience as health and welfare minister has given me strong understanding of national policy. Hosokawa told reporters as he conceded defeat.
In the Asahi survey, only 14% said nuclear power was the deciding issue. Masuzoe himself. local time, compared with 48% for the same period in the previous election--was unusually low, even for a local election. Abe. That will help us move ahead of the central government in implementing social security policies for Tokyo," Mr. Koizumi to continue to send antinuclear candidates into local elections to counter Mr. Of the 16 candidates in the election, 13 were 60 or older, including three each in their 70s and 80s. There was no female candidate.
TOKYO--A former welfare minister backed by Prime MinisterShinzo Abehandily won Tokyo's gubernatorial election Sunday, brushing aside his rivals' attempts to turn the election into a referendum on nuclear policy.
Sunday's victory followed a string of local election losses by candidates backed by the ruling party, including a mayoral vote last month in a city in the southern island prefecture of Okinawa critical of plans for U.S.
His main rival wasMorihiro Hosokawa,a 76-year-old former prime minister, who was backed by another former prime minister and mentor to Mr. Masuzoe early Sunday at an almost deserted polling station in Bunkyo Ward near the city center.
The election, however, was far from a ringing endorsement of Mr. Still, the same poll found 74% of respondents wanted nuclear reactors completely eliminated either immediately or in the near future, signaling a tough road ahead for Mr. But they failed to build serious support bases. Political watchers expect Mr. military bases.
Yoichi Masuzoe speaks at his office in Tokyo on Sunday.REUTERS
"The government is fighting on 30 fronts simultaneously. Abe's own party.
The election outcome provides relief for Mr. Restarting nuclear power plants shut down after the 2011 Fukushima disaster is a priority for his administration, as the nation's huge energy import bills threaten to undermine economic growth brought on by Mr. Hosokawa, who led a short-lived coalition government after ousting the long-reigning Liberal Democratic Party in 1993, came out of 15 years of retirement during which he lived a hermit-like life as a potter. Abe's popular coalition, 65-year-old veteran lawmakerYoichi Masuzoeswept to victory after focusing on largely uncontentious issues such as the success of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, earthquake preparedness and elder care.
Sunday's election was called hurriedly after the previous governor,Naoki Inoki,stepped down amid a money scandal after only a year in the office.
The voter turnout--at 34% as of 7:30 p.m. Masuzoe told reporters after declaring victory Sunday night.
The election also underscored another headache for Mr. Abe's loyalists.
Buoyed by the endorsement of Mr. Abe,Junichiro Koizumi,to tap the considerable antinuclear sentiment among Tokyoites, many of whom want to permanently close all of the nation's nuclear reactors.
Among other candidates were some colorful figures, includingToshio Tamogami,a former air force chief known for his far-right views, andKazuma Ieiri,a 35-year-old Internet entrepreneur who amassed 94,000 followers on his Twitter account for the campaign.
Former Welfare Minister Wins Tokyo Election - WSJ.com
A lack of fresh candidates who could generate excitement among a broad base of voters was another reason for the low turnout.
"Nuclear power is a national government issue, not a local government issue and it's not working on the national government level," saidMichael Cucek,research associate at the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Abe's stimulus policies known as "Abenomics."
The main culprit was weather, as the capital saw its heaviest snowfall in 45 years Saturday, with more than 8 inches falling in central Tokyo.
Even as some candidates tried to make nuclear power a primary campaign issue, voters made it clear their focus was elsewhere. Abe's policies by the city's 13 million people, or of Mr. It's going to be excruciatingly slow" to restart reactors.
Write toYuka Hayashi at firstname.lastname@example.org and Alexander Martin at email@example.com