Mayor Yamazaki, who is suspected of “privatizing ward assets,” retires… His son announces his candidacy for ward mayor, but “black rumors” spread among ward residents. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Mayor Yamazaki, who is suspected of “privatizing ward assets,” retires… His son announces his candidacy for ward mayor, but “black rumors” spread among ward residents.

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Yamazaki addresses the crowd at the completion ceremony of the Yumenoshima Park Archery Range (Photo/Afro)

In elections, all the elements that make up a person, such as popularity, financial power, and name recognition, are judged. In particular, elections in which a family’s entire family is judged in an election for hereditary office can be seen as a tremendous political struggle.

A political struggle for the survival of a family in Koto-ku, Tokyo, is about to take place in the Tokyo ward mayor election to be held on April 23. The family’s name is the Yamazaki family.

Sixty years ago, when I was working at a buckwheat noodle shop, I used to wobble around carrying okamochi (buckwheat noodles) because I was so small. I know my father from his days at the buckwheat noodle shop, where he had to work hard as a son-in-law. So I have supported him in the face of all kinds of criticism. But during the election, Icki said, “I like bread more than onigiri,” and ate fancy bread by himself. He dropped out of Tokai University, and if he is going to be replaced, I can no longer support the Yamazaki family.

An elder who supported the Yamazaki family in Koto-ku for many years sighs in sorrow. The “father” is Koto Ward Mayor Takaaki Yamazaki, 79, who announced his retirement at the end of this term. The “Ikki” is Kazuteru Yamazaki, 50, the eldest son of the mayor and a Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly member.

The Yamazaki family is one of the most prominent political families in Koto Ward, with his father serving as ward mayor and his eldest son being a Koto Ward elected Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly member. After his father’s retirement, the eldest son resigned from the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly and is preparing to run for ward mayor in the April 16 election.

Initially, Mayor Yamazaki had announced his intention to run for a fifth term in the Koto Ward Assembly in November 2010. The Tokyo Metropolitan Federation of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which advocates “in principle, a ban on multiple elections,” was quick to endorse Yamazaki for mayor of Koto Ward.

However, the situation took a turn for the worse,

On March 27, Yamazaki did not show up at a rally held at the East 21 Tokyo hotel in Koto Ward. According to Kazuki’s explanation, he was rushed to the hospital and hospitalized, and informed that he would not be able to participate in the ward mayor election.

Mayor Yamazaki is a “big-name mayor” who also serves as president of the 23 wards mayors’ association. His sudden retirement has poked a hornet’s nest in Koto Ward.

He had originally been suffering from cancer and was hospitalized for about 10 days this year due to poor health. Suddenly, he announced that he would not run for mayor and would retire. One of the reasons was that Komeito, known as the ‘30,000-vote’ party, decided to vote voluntarily. Even in the last four elections, Komeito did not give its endorsement until just before the election, citing ‘multiple elections. This time, too, the Komeito Party decided to cast a ‘voluntary ballot’ after Friday Digital reported that a father and son had privatized the Wakasu Golf Links,” said a Koto Ward assemblyman.

Wakasu Golf Links is located in Koto Ward and supervised by Ayako Okamoto, a legend in women’s golf, and is a popular metropolitan golf course that is said to be “the hardest to get a reservation for in Japan. Our magazine reported the allegation that Yamazaki and his son were using this popular golf course on a “special quota” basis. According to internal documents from the Port Authority, they used the course about once a month, while Tokyo residents were said to be “disconnected even after calling 100 times.

The document, titled “Wakasu Golf Links Usage Results,” with a note in the upper right corner that reads, “Handle with Caution,” describes the usage results of Yamazaki and his son.

In the document, the parents of Yamazaki and his son are listed as follows: “In the fiscal year of Reiwa 2020, Takaaki Yamazaki, the mayor, 15 times, and Kazuteru Yamazaki, the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly member, 10 times (25 times in total).
In Reiwa 2021, Takaaki Yamazaki, ward mayor 14 times, Kazuteru Yamazaki, Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly member 13 times (27 times in total).
In Reiwa 2022, Takaaki Yamazaki, Ward Mayor 0 times, Kazuteru Yamazaki, Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly member 15 times (15 times in total).

The number of times is based on reservations and may differ from the actual number of times the game was played. In Reiwa 2022, the mayor of the ward had played “0” times, but this only means that he did not play due to his deteriorating health.

It is outrageous that the Yamazaki family has privatized the Wakasu Golf Links, which belongs to the citizens of Tokyo, and that the position of ward mayor has been hereditary. If a member of the House of Representatives were to be hereditary, but if a father and son were to become ward mayor, which has a much higher settlement authority, there is a fear that the privatization of ward assets would spread.

Tsutomu Kimura, 83, who served two terms as a Koto Ward assemblyman, six terms as a Tokyo Metropolitan assemblyman, and three terms as a member of the House of Representatives (for Tokyo’s 15th district), is outraged.

The Kimura family, like the Yamazaki family, is also a political family. Their second daughter, Emi Takahashi, served as a Koto Ward assembly member and ran for the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly seat in 2009, but was unsuccessful in her runner-up position. Although she was unsuccessful, she is considered to have fought a good fight, as only two ward assembly members who supported her took 24,000 votes.

This time, his eldest daughter, former House of Representatives member Yayoi Kimura (Kyoto 3, etc., 57), announced her candidacy for ward mayor.

On April 3, she held a rally at the Edo Shiryokan with Seiko Noda, 62, former minister in charge of childbirth, as her supporting speaker; when Noda ran for president two years ago, Kimura was named as his nominator, and as “for my best friend,” she gave Kimura encouragement, saying that “90% of the political world is male” and “a balanced society is desirable.

In the 1980s, when former Foreign Minister Koji Kakizawa (deceased), who had been former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone’s right-hand man, left the LDP, the conservative faction split, and Tsutomu Kimura and Takaaki Yamazaki emerged as the leading figures.

Before the mayor fell ill, Saturday mornings at the Wakasu Golf Links were “the mayor’s quota,” and a bus would stop in front of the ward office to pick up the neighborhood association chairpersons and others on their way. It must be an urban legend, but the ‘lees’ have accumulated to the extent that there are rumors that he was allowed to enter the nursery school because he is acquainted with Mr. Yamazaki” (a ward assemblyman).

When Koji Kakizawa’s eldest son, Mito (52), won the November 2009 lower house election in Tokyo’s 15th ward (Koto-ku), the LDP additionally recognized him and he joined the party. However, Mito, who was born in Belgium and raised in Koto Ward from the age of three months, did not join the Tokyo Metropolitan Federation, but was placed in the custody of the Yamagata Prefectural Federation, with General Affairs Chairman Toshiaki Endo acting as mediator.

The post of LDP branch chief in Tokyo’s 15th ward (Koto-ku) remains vacant, which is also said to be a “battle between the Yamazaki and Kakizawa families. Mizu’s supporters and former secretary were present at Kimura’s rally. The aforementioned ward assemblyman said, “The two families have been at it since the Showa and Heisei eras.

The Yamazaki family, the Kimura family, and the Kakizawa family, which competed for supremacy in the Showa and Heisei eras, have changed generations and are still battling it out today. In the ward assembly election, there was a conservative split, but the Tokyo Metropolitan Federation of Trade Unions decided to endorse Mr. Kazuki. However, Secretary General Naoki Takashima, who does not agree with Kazuki, is against hereditary succession, and can the Tokyo Metropolitan Federation fight in unison? A house that loses an election becomes ‘fallen.'”

In Japan, it has been said for more than several hundred years that “those who are arrogant are not long in coming. History has shown us how families that have used the power of ward leaders and councilors to do as they please will end up.

The Yamazaki Family’s Alleged Use of Ward Residents’ Property for Personal Purposes
Kazuteru Yamazaki’s tweet expressing his intention to run for ward mayor
  • Interview and text by Daisuke Iwasaki

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