Open debate unlikely between candidates in Tokyo govt poll

TOKYO - An open debate between candidates in the Tokyo gubernatorial election may not be held as former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa is apparently reluctant to attend it.

"We were told [by TV stations] that about seven debate programs had been cancelled," an official of a campaign office of former Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yoichi Masuzoe said Friday. "They [TV stations] said the Hosokawa side declined their offer."

"We are not saying Hosokawa would never attend [an open debate]," a public relations official of Hosokawa's campaign office said. "We'll decide whether he will appear on a debate programme after taking into consideration such factors as the contents of the programme and his schedule comprehensively."

"He [Hosokawa] declines to attend an open debate probably because he doesn't have confidence in debating policies," said an official of a campaign office of former Air Self-Defence Force Chief of Staff Toshio Tamogami.