Tokyo Gubernatorial Election 2020: Candidate Profile for Taro Yamamoto

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

Check the other candidate profiles using these links: Koike; Utsunomiya; Ono.

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 Taro Yamamoto (leader of Reiwa Shinsengumi) and his policies.


Name/Age: Taro Yamamoto/46 years old

Former Occupation: Member of the House of Councillors (2013-2019)

Political Party: Reiwa Shinsengumi (Leader)

Official WebsiteTwitter

2020 Policies

① Cancel the Tokyo Olympic/Paralympic Games 

COVID-19 Response/Economy

② Procure 15 trillion yen (approx. $140 billion) to improve living standards

How will 15 trillion yen be procured?

  • Not all at once, but in several rounds
  • Tokyo has the financial capability to borrow; financial institutions will buy bonds issued by Tokyo
  • Can issue municipal bonds if the national government includes COVID-19 in the Basic Act on Disaster Management as an unusual natural phenomenon
  • If the national government doesn’t include COVID-19, Tokyo can independently designate it as a natural disaster and issue bonds
  • When municipalities issue bonds, the national government compensates them through tax revenue allocated to local governments
    • Since Tokyo doesn’t receive tax revenue from the national government, financial institutions would need to buy the bonds to cover the costs


  • 10,000 yen (approx. $93) to every citizen in Tokyo
  • 1-year exemption of tuition at every level of education
  • Compensate lost income of small/mid-sized businesses & individually-run businesses
  • Compensate for the lost medical payment revenues of hospitals (return last year’s income level)
  • Compensation that can be swiftly handed out when a 2nd/3rd wave comes
    • 10,000 yen cash handouts & a system where all businesses can apply to receive 1 million yen
    • Loans to small/mid-sized businesses & individually-run businesses at no interest, collateral, and a chance for extended deferral 
    • 1-year exemption of utilities (heat, light, water) for all households
    • Provide 24,000 yen a day as hazard pay to healthcare workers & other essential workers

③ Add 3000 new civil servants/employees to the metropolitan government 

④ Secure affordable housing (cheap housing)

  • Provide housing utilizing the 40,000 vacant municipally-owned rooms, 690,000 vacant houses in Tokyo, and 410,000 vacant apartments 
  • Provide housing for handicapped people living alone who have a difficult time finding housing
  • Rent-free housing for evacuees from the nuclear power plant crisis (Fukushima)

⑤ Reinforce the healthcare system

  • Cancel plans to privatize (independent agency) public hospitals run by Tokyo
    • Osaka tried that out and cut labor costs by outsourcing
    • Led to an increase in part-time employees & a weaker system that may not be able to withstand another pandemic/crisis
  • Increase personnel & budget of public health centers
  • Expand PCR testing, isolation, and hospitalization capabilities
  • Create a system where healthcare + essential workers, those in contact with infected people, and those who may have been infected are prioritized for testing

Disaster Preparedness

⑥ Prevention

  • Establish a disaster prevention agency
  • Create a regional disaster prevention plan (only Kokubunji & Setagaya have such plans in place)
  • Dispatch regional disaster prevention advisers in the thousands 
    • Dispatched in regions where senior citizens live
  • Increase disaster prevention projects in regions where there is dense population of wooden houses
    • Pay for dismantlement fee of vacant houses whose owners are unknown
    • Provide temporary housing for those living in those regions
    • Construct municipally-owned housing that includes a facility for elderly care in the region (so people can return to the region once redeveloped)
  • Get rid of utility poles by enacting legislation that requires the installment of all utilities underground (electricity, gas, water, optical fiber)—will cut costs too

Social Welfare

⑦ Disabled people should have a say in the creation of policies for disabled people

  • Appoint a handicapped person to run agencies that craft policy for disabled people
  • When deciding policy, at least ½ of those present must be handicapped
  • Strive for inclusive education that allows disabled children to learn alongside their non-handicapped peers

⑧ Increase child nurseries/senior residential homes; improve working conditions for caretakers 

  • Need to address the children not included in official counts of those on waiting lists (hidden children in 2019 are estimated to be around 18,000)
  • Improve working conditions for nursery school teachers 
    • Monthly salary 10,000 yen lower than average 
    • Have to work long hours
  • Hire single mothers and hikikomori (those who don’t leave their homes) to compensate for labor shortages in residential homes 
    • Support these people through the creation of a Social Enterprise office
    • Help these people get certified in caretaking 
  • Establish a system to watch over senior citizens (who are at risk of dying alone)
    • Emergency contact system: a system to locate individuals & rescue them if necessary

Other Policies 

  • Regain the Yokota airspace from the United States
    • Cancel the implementation of the Haneda low altitude flight routes 
  • Green New Deal 
    • Announce a climate emergency declaration & achieve zero CO2 emissions by 2050
    • Utilize energy saving technologies & renewable energy 
    • Create measures to prevent flooding
    • Expand city park areas to deal with the heat islands phenomenon
    • Provide loans/subsidies to firms using energy saving technologies & renewable energy
    • Double the acreage of arable land in 10 years & promote the use of organic food in public school lunches 
    • As a major shareholder of TEPCO, lead the movement to abolish nuclear power plants & help victims of the nuclear accident
  • Create a space where everyone can feel a sense of belonging 
    • Support food banks
    • Utilize vacant houses to create spaces like a children’s cafeteria
  • Protect the rights of sexual minorities
    • Partnership system: issuing certificates that admit a relationship is equivalent to a marriage
    • Considering Tokyo is home to 420,000 people who identify as sexual minorities, the system should be implemented throughout Tokyo
    • Protect the rights of sexual minorities during emergencies (ex. no separation by sex)
  • Make Tokyo a comfortable place to live for foreigners
    • Approx. 20% of all foreigners in Japan live in Tokyo
    • Will work to improve working conditions for all foreigners
  • Measures to address domestic violence (DV)
    • Conduct a fact-finding investigation into DV
    • Include emotional, financial/economic, sexual abuse to the definition of DV
    • Reinforce support for children who are abused at home
    • Measures to address “date DV” (violence in relationships that aren’t as serious as marriage or de-facto marriages)
    • Subsidize counseling fees for victims of DV
    • Support the self-dependence of victims 

First Impressions

  • Question whether these policies are fiscally feasible—not sure if these can be accomplished in 4 years and whether the Tokyo assembly will pass these measures
  • It would be fantastic if 15 trillion yen could be procured without incurring costs for future generations (more taxes?)
  • Includes enticing policies like utility fee exemptions, but the fact that nobody has done this questions how realistic they are 
  • An interesting candidate that is either too idealistic or very ambitious; a unique type we rarely find in Japanese politics (someone who goes this far to oppose the national government’s fiscal restraint)

Yamamoto says that it is in times of crisis that governments must bail out their citizens. In order to do so, Tokyo must make a significant “investment” that will reach 15 trillion yen in total. This is plausible in the short term and a strong reason to vote for him.

However, in the long term, you can’t deny the possibility of this being a risky investment. No matter how much borrowing power Tokyo has, free tuition for a year and a series of cash handouts will no doubt mean cuts to other projects/agencies.

Yamamoto will need to persuade voters that this risk remains low (esp. that it doesn’t lead to higher taxes in the future).

The next post will look at Makoto Sakurai’s policies.

15 thoughts on “Tokyo Gubernatorial Election 2020: Candidate Profile for Taro Yamamoto

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