• Short Summary

    On Sunday (8 July), the people of Tokyo -- the world's largest capital city -- go to the polls to elect a new city council.

  • Description

    On Sunday (8 July), the people of Tokyo -- the world's largest capital city -- go to the polls to elect a new city council.

    The election will be between the ruling Liberal Democrats, the hard-fighting Socialists and the fast-rising Communists. It's being held at a time when Prime Minister Tanaka's leadership is being questioned.

    Many political observers say the popularity of the Liberal Democrats is reaching a crucial stage, and the result of this election could have wide-ranging repercussions in the Federal parliament -- especially if there are significant gains by the Socialists and Communists.

    In recent local polls, the Liberal Democrats have lost heavily to the opposition parties, so at the moment they're trying desperately to rebuild their image. Prime Minister Tanaka himself has been active in street campaigns, appearing alongside his party's candidates at every opportunity.

    However, the issues on which the election is being fought are grim ones -- pollution, overcrowding and massive inflation. Pollution comes from a quarter of a million factories in the metropolitan area, aggravated by exhaust fumes from more than two million motor vehicles.

    The opposition parties have also used inflation as a political weapon. Tokyo's retail prices are now recognised as among the world's highest. They're almost twice as high as New York and London. The spiral is fed by wholesale prices, which sky-rocket, almost unchecked.

    Last May, the nation's wholesale prices rose by record proportions to register the longest period of inflation in history.

    Housing conditions for the not-so-well-off continue to deteriorate. High rise construction goes ahead without planning directives from the Government, forcing land prices and creating a powerful new emotional issue -- a citizen's right to sunlight. In some cases residents' committees have taken developers to court -- and won -- using the sunshine issue as the basis of their argument.

    SYNOPSIS: Sunday is polling day in Tokyo -- the world's largest capital city. The people will vote to elect a new city council -- and the election is seen as a test for Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka, and his Liberal Democrats.

    Political observers say the Liberal Democrats are approaching a critical stage, and Mr. Tanaka's leadership is actually being questioned. His party has lost heavily at recent local elections, so the campaign for the Tokyo poll has been heavy. Mr. Tanaka himself has played an active role.

    The opposition is coming from the hard-fighting Socialists, and the fast-rising Communists. They've attacked the ruling Liberal Democrats at every possible opportunity -- singling out pollution, inflation and housing.

    Almost every day Tokyo is shrouded by air pollution. The main villain is a quarter of a million factories, and that's aggravated by exhaust fumes from more than two million motor vehicles. The smog is so bad, children regularly are sent home from school.

    Housing too is an emotional campaign issue. Unchecked high-rise construction is forcing up land prices -- and claiming the ever-waning sunshine, especially in poorer areas.

    The housing protest has gone further than posters. Residents' committees have taken some developers to court - and was, using the right to sunshine issue as their central argument.

    And then there's inflation. It hits everybody, largely via the supermarket. Retail food prices in Tokyo are generally twice those in New York and London, and inflation is running at a record level. Inflation has been used as a potent political weapon by the opposition. Now observers say the grass ???oots issues have set the Liberal ??? fighting for survival.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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