Tokyo Gov Koike declares intention to run for 3rd term, setting up showdown with Renho

Tokyo, 13 June, /AJMEDIA/

Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike said Wednesday she will seek reelection for her third four-year term in July’s gubernatorial election, setting the stage for a battle with high-profile opposition lawmaker Renho and a proxy war between the national ruling and opposition parties.

The Tokyo chapter of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has decided to support Koike, a former lawmaker with the party. The LDP fared poorly in recent elections, with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s cabinet facing sluggish support rates due to a political funds scandal.

The announcement by the 71-year-old incumbent came after Renho, a House of Councillors member of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, earlier declared her candidacy for the July 7 election, with official campaigning slated to begin on June 20.

Given the high-profile nature of the job, the leadership race in the Japanese capital always draws wide public interest, but this year’s diverse field of candidates, including celebrity YouTubers as well as ex-lawmakers, is set to create more headlines than usual.

At a metropolitan assembly plenary session on the final day of the government’s current term, Koike touted challenges she has tackled during her eight years in office, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2021 and the forming of new policies to promote child-rearing.

“We should not stop the powerful path of a sustainable society that can be realized through drastic structural reforms,” Koike said.

Koike, a conservative who became the first female governor of the Japanese capital in 2016 after serving as Japan’s defense minister and environment minister, scored an overwhelming victory in the previous gubernatorial race in 2020.

After winning her first term, she founded regional political party Tomin First no Kai to which she now serves as an adviser, but she has recently deepened ties with the ruling party and its junior coalition partner Komeito party.

Although it experienced early success, candidates backed by Tomin First no Kai have suffered losses in recent races, including a House of Representatives by-election in Tokyo in late April, as other opposition parties gained momentum amid frustration with the LDP over its perceived financial misdeeds.

Koike also faces an accusation from a former aide who recently resurfaced a claim that he was complicit in a scheme to falsify her academic credentials, alleging she may not have graduated from Cairo University in Egypt. The governor denies the allegation.

With the LDP throwing its support behind Koike, the election is expected to be a two-woman race between the incumbent and the 56-year-old Renho, both of whom are former TV anchors.

The LDP lost three seats in upper house by-elections in April and a candidate it backed was defeated by his rival, supported by the CDPJ and another opposition party, in a gubernatorial election in Shizuoka, central Japan, in May.

As Renho is aiming to stand as an independent candidate in the hope of garnering wider support from voters, she offered to leave the CDPJ earlier Wednesday. The party is likely to endorse her proposal to quit next week, she told reporters.

The Japanese Communist Party said it will throw its weight behind Renho, the upper house member who is now serving her fourth term in the Tokyo constituency after first being elected in 2004.

The second-largest opposition Japan Innovation Party, meanwhile, said it has decided not to run its own candidate in the Tokyo gubernatorial election.

More than 40 people have shown interest in running in the election, a record number, such as former Air Self-Defense Force chief Toshio Tamogami, Shinji Ishimaru, who served as mayor of Akitakata in Hiroshima Prefecture and TV personality Kuniaki Shimizu.

Follow us on social

Facebook Twitter Youtube

Related Posts