Tokyo Gubernatorial Election 2020: Candidate Profile for Kenji Utsunomiya

This is the second post introducing candidates in the Tokyo governor race.

Check this post for more information on Governor Koike’s policies.

The goal of these profiles is to get readers to know all the candidates on one website. I want to help people find information with minimal effort.

This post will focus on Kenji Utsunomiya (who is backed by 3 major opposition parties) and his policies.


Name/Age: Kenji Utsunomiya/73 years old

Career: Former president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations & lawyer

Political Party: Independent (Supported by the Constitutional Democratic Party, Communist Party, Social Democratic Party)

Slogan: Each citizens’ rights are at stake ~ I will protect the lives and livelihood of 14 million citizens!

Official WebsiteTwitter


  • A shift from a government that promotes privatization to one that focuses on municipal ownership (more work done by the government)
  • Green recovery = Green New Deal + economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic
  • C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group 
    • Economic recovery does not mean returning to pre-COVID standards 
    • Economic policies must consider public health & scientific data 
    • The base of economic recovery will be high-quality public service, public investments, and the community’s resiliency
  • Return to a Tokyo that helps vulnerable populations thrive

2020 Policies

3 Urgent Policies

① COVID-19 Response

  • Reinforcing the testing system 
    • Conduct PCR tests for people in close contact with infected individuals regardless of their condition
    • Conduct PCR tests for health care workers, hospital patients, and residents 
    • Conduct antibody tests to grasp the level of spread
  • Financially support hospitals, public health centers, and health care workers
  • Have a sufficient stockpile of beds, ventilators/respirators, masks, and PPE 
  • Compensate small/mid-sized firms and those who have lost their jobs/income due to COVID-19
    • Run TV/radio/online ads educating people about the income support system 
    • Establish an Income Support Hotline 
  • Increase the number of public health centers, employees and research facilities

② Stop the independent administration of public hospitals

③ Cancel the casino bidding project 

8 Important Policies

① Addressing child poverty: making school meals free 

② A city where anybody can learn: lowering metropolitan universities’ tuition by half (eventually free)

③ Addressing housing poverty

  • Constructing new metropolitan housing
  • Implementing rent subsidies/guarantor systems
  • Supporting housing for evacuees from Fukushima (nuclear power plant issue)

④ Addressing working-class poverty

  • Enacting regulations for service contracts
  • Reducing the number of part-time workers (increasing full-time employment)

⑤ Strengthening disaster preparedness (disaster prevention & evacuation strategies)

⑥ Listening to the citizens: reexamining infrastructure policy 

⑦ Oppose low altitude flight routes over central Tokyo (Haneda Airport)

⑧ Environment: strengthen climate change policy & protect greenery/agriculture 

Other Policies

  • Negotiate cancellation of the Olympic Games with the IOC if experts conclude it difficult (will use funds to financially support those who have suffered from COVID-19)
  • Ending women’s poverty, promoting a gender-equal society 
  • Put an end to children on nursery waiting lists & senior citizens on retirement home waiting lists
    • Improve working conditions for nursery teachers and care workers 
    • Increase the number of approved nurseries and special elderly nursing homes 
  • A city where everybody can learn
    • Free compulsory education
    • Free high school education for all 
    • Promoting evening middle schools, part-time high schools, smaller classes, and inclusive education
  • Protecting the rights of the disabled
    • Installing platform doors to prevent the visually impaired from falling on to the tracks
    • A barrier-free (accessible), discrimination-free society
  • Protecting the rights of all individuals (including foreigners)
    • Reinforcing hate speech regulation
    • Resuming subsidies to Korean schools 
    • Allowing the governor to attend the memorial for Korean victims of the Great Kanto Earthquake 
    • Implementing the same-sex partnership system (certificate system)
  • Getting rid of all blind spots in the welfare system
    • Implementing a “delivery” welfare system
  • A more participatory (democratic) government system 
    • Citizens propose part of the budget, vote, and ultimately choose how a part of the budget is spent
  • Keeping citizens safe 
    • Against the deployment of Osprey aircraft to Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo
  • Promoting education on peace by creating the Tokyo Peace Memorial Hall 

Here’s a more detailed look at his policies by issue: 

Social Welfare

  • Enacting the “Ensuring the Livelihood, Housing, Employment” regulation to create a social benefits system 
    • A system where people help each other (Tokyo/municipalities, by industry, cooperation between different age groups)
  • Enacting regulation to provide a stable environment to raise children  
    • Childcare
      • Allowing upper elementary school children (4th-6th grade) to use after school care/activities
      • 1 children’s center per elementary school
      • Free health care for those under 18 years old
      • Social worker in every middle school
    • Child poverty
      • Conduct an investigation to set a target value 
      • Financial assistance for education, increasing child-rearing allowance for single-parent households, assistance for households on social benefits and children with inferior education 
      • Free lunch through compulsory education & during the summer holidays
      • Free compulsory & high school education (no income regulations)
    • Children on nursery waiting lists
      • Increasing the number of child consultation centers from 11 to 26 (per nation’s standards of 1 center per 500,000 people)
      • Increasing the number of orphanages where abused children can stay
      • Improving the adoption system 
  • Social benefits
    • Policies for younger generations
      • Regulating “black companies” that exploit workers 
      • Establishing a Youth Council that can propose policy
    • Poverty prevention
      • Establishing an “Escape Poverty Council” whose members would include experts + citizens
      • Against the Abe administration’s decision to cut social benefits
      • Support for the homeless: creating private emergency shelter rooms
      • Increasing the minimum wage to 1500 yen (approx. $14)
      • Improving the working conditions for part-time workers in public service
    • Expanding public housing + implementing a rent subsidy system
    • Policies to prevent karoshi (death from overwork)
      • Enacting regulations to prevent karoshi 
      • Announcing the name of companies & providing subsidies if working conditions are improved 
    • Regulations to improve welfare for senior citizens
      • Reducing health care fees for the elderly
      • Lowering national health insurance fees
      • Reducing nursing care insurance fees & increasing the number of facilities
    • Health care system
      • Make it so all citizens are insured
      • Free health care for all citizens under the age of 18
      • Oppose higher health care insurance fees for the elderly (will use the Senior Citizens Fiscal Stability Fund’s 4.5 billion yen to maintain prices)
      • Establishing a medical school at the metropolitan university: consider using the school to support community-based health care
    • A city where everyone can live comfortably
      • Protecting the rights of those with disabilities
      • Increase special education schools & make health care free for disabled people
      • Ensuring income
        • Oppose reducing social benefits
        • Prioritize jobs to employment support facilities
      • Evacuation: accessibility/ensuring information is provided to those with disabilities
      • Ensure disabled people can access welfare services with/without a disability certificate 
    • A gender-equal society
      • Name 1 woman vice-governor & increase women in management positions
      • Supporting women who seek reemployment & single-parent households
      • Supporting people to abolish harassment & crimes involving gender
      • Educate children on equality & sex-ed from elementary/middle school 
      • Stimulate policies promoting gender equality through increased training 
    • Sexual minorities 
      • Survey on how sexual minorities are treated, establish support desks and allow them to live in metropolitan housing 
    • Foreigners
      • Allow them to participate in various activities (ex. Citizen Council) & consider granting local suffrage rights
      • Educational support & address hate speech 
    • Oppose higher consumption tax
      • Will not raise prices for metropolitan subway, buses, or water bills (even if the tax is raised)
      • Return corporate business taxes & corporate resident taxes to Tokyo 
      • Request to repeal the benefit-your-locality (furusato) tax (nat. government can end it)
    • Developing a city where everyone has a place to live
      • Creating free spaces for youth, expanding Wi-Fi areas, no pet exterminations, etc.
    • Free entry into facilities owned by Tokyo for those under the age of 25 


  • Creating fair/equal education
    • Examining the necessity to close down schools
    • Increasing the number of teachers/classrooms
    • Establishing a metropolitan junior college & aim to make metropolitan universities & nursing schools free 
  • Getting rid of competitive education
    • Examining the need for school choice, reorganization, integrated schools (no entrance exam), national achievement tests 
    • Strive to create 20-student classes
    • Reform high school entrance exams into non-competitive ones
  • Creating a better working environment for teachers 
    • Oppose the national government selecting educational content 
    • Stop forcing students to sing the national anthem
    • Structural reform in the field of education
    • Improving working conditions for teachers (ex. hiring temporary teachers full-time)
  • Abolishing bullying/corporal punishment (taibatsu)
    • Establishing a bullying prevention council that includes parents as members
    • Create consultation windows/counters & an ombudsperson that directly interacts with students
    • More education on human rights
  • Administrative/operational reform of educational institutions
    • Cutting off the Board of Education from politics
    • Revive the system where input from those on the ground becomes policy 


  • Disaster prevention
    • Create measures to respond to earthquakes & fires
    • Creating & maintaining drainage pump stations to deal with heavy rainfall
    • Create measures to respond to a possible eruption of Mt. Fuji
    • Create measures to respond to tsunamis/high tides in the Tokyo bay area & other areas near bodies of water
    • Establishing an evacuation system in response to a landslide alert 
    • Help victims of the Izu Oshima landslide recover 
    • Support evacuation measures in response to tsunamis/volcanic eruptions in the Tosho area
    • Repair aging infrastructure with help from the national government 
  • Shifting the municipal government’s priorities
    • Developing a city that can respond to climate change
      • Reviewing public projects
      • Cutting subsidies to companies that emit carbon dioxide/increasing subsidies & loans to those who emit less
    • Stop large redevelopment projects 
    • Stop building skyscrapers & distribute business/industrial zones to areas like the  Tama region 
    • Protect greenery & implement transportation policy focused on walking/bike riding 
    • Increase the number of charging stations for electric vehicles & reduce industrial waste
    • Strengthen community ties by promoting citizen regional protection schemes (prevent the elderly from dying alone)
    • Focus more on supporting citizens watching over each other than placing surveillance cameras 
  • Developing the city with a focus on climate change
    • Push the Green New Deal forward in different industries
    • Liquidate the ShinGinko Tokyo (New Bank Tokyo)
  • Supporting small businesses
    • Financial, technical, youth employment, public purchase support 
    • For companies that lack successors: create a system for consultation/mediation
    • More institutional loans (makes it easier for companies to borrow money) 
    • Support projects that allow young people to become craftsmen in the manufacturing industry
    • Create a business management subsidy system
    • Make it easier for companies who are part of the Japan Health Insurance Association to get a medical checkup 

Administrative/Financial Reform

  • Changing the municipal government 
    • More citizen involvement 
    • No wasting money; use the budget to raise living standards for all
    • Expand public services 
  • Reducing disparities in the Tama/Tosho region 
    • Increase grants to develop the region
    • Combine financial adjustment funds (pool funds from surplus years and use in budget deficit years) with municipalities = more funds to promote/develop regions


  • Supporting evacuees from Fukushima (due to the nuclear power plant accident)
  • Declaration to abandon nuclear power 
    • As a shareholder of TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company), propose the closure of all nuclear power plants
  • Energy policy that looks to the future
    • Enact regulations that promote the use of renewable energy & subsidize efficient use of energy
    • Climate Emergency Declaration (i.e. a state of emergency of the climate)
  • Lowering electricity costs by expanding the deregulation of electricity sales 
  • Policies to address radiation exposure 
    • Stricter standards for radiation in food

Peace/National Security

  • Promote peace and zero nuclear energy/weapons
  • Oppose amending Article 9 of the Constitution, ministers officially visiting Yasukuni Shrine, the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets
  • Aim to get rid of U.S. military bases in Tokyo

First Impressions

  • Focuses a lot on social welfare, but also proposes policies in other areas like energy/environment
  • While the expansion of the safety net is great, the question will be how he intends to procure funds
  • Anti-Koike voters will probably vote for him since he advocates for the exact opposite (less large-scale development projects, more on social welfare)

Utsunomiya advocates for soft policies (welfare), while Governor Koike pushed forward hard policies (economic-based) like large-scale urban development projects.

Voters who found Koike’s social welfare policies as insufficient will vote for Utsunomiya. In addition, news of Koike not achieving most of her campaign pledges from 2016 (the 7 zeros) has lost her some support. While that number remains unknown, it’s possible that many have switched allegiances.

A government for the people, and a governor who supports citizens’ welfare. We can say for a fact that these are the values Utsunomiya stands for in this election.

The next post will look at Taisuke Ono’s policies.

18 thoughts on “Tokyo Gubernatorial Election 2020: Candidate Profile for Kenji Utsunomiya

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