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Sunday, 8 April 2007

Shintaro Ishihara is expected to be reelected governor of Tokyo, reports Japan Today. "Kyodo News projects based on exit polls" that the stultifying presence of the Liberal Democratic Party, which has ruled Japan virtually for the entire period since World War Two, is likely to continue. The Web site reports that Ishihara "is far outpacing key challengers". The gubernatorial elections are seen by national politicians as a reliable indicator of broader voter preferences.

MSN Mainichi Daily News reports that early vote counts indicate an Ishihara win.

Ishihara, a prize-winning novelist once spoken of as a contender for prime minister, is known for harsh criticism of China, North Korea, foreigners, immigrants, women -- and even the French language.

He has ignited outrage by ordering public school teachers in Tokyo to sing Japan's national anthem at school functions or face punishment.

Fans of Haruki Murakami will be disappointed with this result. The writer said "I'm worried about my country" when interviewed last year by the South China Morning Post, an English-language newspaper based in Hong-Kong. What worries him is the resurgent nationalism that Ishihara propagates through his policies. I reported the interview last July.

Later the same month an article appeared in Italian journal La Stampa drawing on the same interview. I translated the article into English.

Kyodo News labels Ishihara "a popular hawk". The BBC labels him a "Controversial nationalist". Mainichi Daily News labels him a "Novelist-turned-politician" and an "outspoken nationalist".

In Tokyo, voter turnout was estimated to be 40.85% as of 6 p.m., up from 36.15% at the same time in the previous election four years ago, according to the Tokyo metropolitan election management committee.

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