By Duncan Mackay

Former Japanese Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa claims he wants to use Tokyo 2020 to "build a new Japan" ©AFP/Getty ImagesJanuary 23 - Former Japanese Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, a critic of Tokyo's bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, has promised that he will use the Games to "create a new Japan" if his campaign to become the city's new Governor is successful.

Hosokawa has come out of political retirement to in a bid to replace Naoki Inose, who resigned as Tokyo Governor last month following his involvement in a corruption scandal after he illegally accepted a loan from hospital group Tokushukai.

The 76-year-old Hosokawa had kept a low profile since 1994 following involvement in his own corruption scandal after it came to light that he had accepted a loan from a trucking company previously accused of bribery and links to organised crime, forcing him to resign as Prime Minister.

Hosokawa, who had been working as a potter after entering the political wilderness, is standing on a platform of ending Japan's reliance on nuclear power, a controversial issue in the country since the earthquake and tsunami disaster led to a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in March 2011.

He had previously opposed Tokyo's bid to host the Olympics and Paralympics, claiming all efforts should be concentrated on rebuilding the country following the disaster.

But he now claims that Tokyo 2020 presents an opportunity to help in that process.

"With the decision for Tokyo to host [the Olympics and Paralympics], I now welcome and see this as a chance to build a new Japan," said Hosokawa. 

Hosokawa, whose campaign is supported by another former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, also proposed hosting some events during the Olympics in the Tohoku region, the northeastern areas hit hardest by the 2011 disaster.

Such a plan is likely to be resisted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who have always previously been opposed to hosting events outside the host city unless it is for special or logistical reasons.

Japan's former Health Minister Yoichi Masuzoe is favourite to succeed Naoki Inose as Tokyo Governor in the elections on February 9 ©AFP/Getty ImagesJapan's former Health Minister Yoichi Masuzoe is favourite to succeed Naoki Inose as Tokyo Governor in the elections on February 9 ©AFP/Getty Images

The favourite to succeed is Inose in the election on February 9 is Japan's former Health Minister Yoichi Masuzoe, who is backed by the ruling Liberal Democrat party and who in early opinion polls has the most public support. 

His plans for Tokyo 2020 include improving signage in English and other languages for foreigners who want to take public transportation.

"We will do everything in our power to show the world what a wonderful city Tokyo is," he said.

Another candidate, former Japan Federation of Bar Associations President Kenji Utsunomiya, promised to turn the 2020 Olympics into a "simple and environmentally friendly" event.

"The event must be welcomed not only in Tokyo but also in other parts of the country and abroad," said Utsunomiya.

Among other contenders in the election is former Air Self-Defence Force chief Toshio Tamogami who claimed he would use the Olympics to revitalise the Japanese economy through public works projects.

The official list of candidates is due to be published later today at 5pm Tokyo time.

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