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Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike Wins Third Term

Yuriko Koike easily wins 3rd term as Tokyo governor, outshining 56 competitors in her bid to continue setting the course for the greater Tokyo metropolis. 



Yuriko Koike answers media questions after winning a third term as Tokyo governor. In Tokyo on July 7. (©Sankei by Kazuya Kamogawa)

Incumbent Yuriko Koike (71) was elected to her third term as Tokyo governor on July 7. Running as an independent candidate, Koike handily defeated the other 55 candidates for the position. 

Those competing against her included Shinji Ishimaru (41), former mayor of Akitakata City in Hiroshima Prefecture, who surprised many by coming in second. He carried a message that resonated with young voters despite little Tokyo experience. Former Upper House opposition member Renho Saito (56) came in third. Toshio Tamogami (75), a retired Air Self-Defense Force Chief of Staff, was another newcomer. 

Governor Koike's Policies and Voter Response

A record 56 candidates entered the race for governor. Meanwhile, the spotlight was on Governor Koike's eight-year tenure and key issues such as declining birth rates. 

Her policies resonated strongly with voters. These included eliminating income limits for high school fees and making high school education essentially free. Additionally, she introduced initiatives such as subsidizing egg freezing, subsidies for painless childbirth, and expanding free childcare for the first child.

In the Tokyo gubernatorial election, people were seen "poster-jacking" by pasting identical posters on the candidate bulletin boards. (©Sankei by Takumi Kamoshida)

Koike versus Renho With a Surprise from Hiroshima

The campaign turned into a de facto showdown. Governor Koike was backed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito coalition. Renho received support from opposition parties, including the Constitutional Democratic Party, Japan Communist Party, and Social Democratic Party

Meanwhile, a third candidate without such backing stole part of the show on Sunday, July 7. Ishimaru, a city mayor from the Hiroshima region, used his communication skills to get his message across to young voters. Although Koike won handily overall, Ishimaru won a majority of voters in their teens and twenties.

Koike's victory and Ishimaru's second-place standing will be closely observed for their potential influence on future national politics.

Their Messages

Yuriko Koike ran on her record and her plan of making Tokyo "Even Better! Tokyo's great reform." Her record includes leading the metropolis through the COVID-19 pandemic with relative success compared to most major world cities.

Renho criticized Governor Koike and advocated for reforming Tokyo's administration. Ishimaru emphasized political reconstruction and the economy with the slogan "Tokyo, let’s get moving." Tamogami campaigned from a traditional conservative standpoint.

From Newscaster to Tokyo Governorship

Yuriko Koike was born in Ashiya City, Hyogo Prefecture, in 1952. After a career as a newscaster, she was first elected in the 1992 Upper House election. In 1993, she became a member of the Lower House. 

She was Japan's first female Minister of Defense. In addition, she held positions such as Minister of the Environment. In 2016, she ran as an independent in the Tokyo gubernatorial election following Yoichi Masuzoe's resignation. She won the election without the support of the LDP, becoming Tokyo's first female governor. Amid the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, she was reelected in 2020.

According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Election Administration Commission, voter turnout for this election was 60.62%. This figure is 5.62% higher compared to the same time during the previous election in 2020. 

(Updated on July 8.)


Read a related article in Japanese.

Author: The Sankei Shimbun and JAPAN Forward