Yuriko Koike Makes History as the First Female Tokyo Governor

News & Views - August 1st, 2016
Yuriko Koike

Following Hillary Clinton’s history-making nomination in the US presidential election race, Yuriko Koike of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party was yesterday elected as the first female governor of Tokyo, with a victory of nearly three million votes.

The election took place after the resignation of Yoichi Masuzoe and his so-called “seiji to kane” (politics and money) issues, including his usage of public funding for personal expenses. A former defense minister, Koike, 64, was the first among all three candidates to announce her candidacy on June 29, just two weeks after Masuzoe’s resignation. Running against her were former Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Hiroya Masuda, and journalist Shuntaro Torigoe.

The election’s turnout was 59.73%, quite a leap from last year’s 46.14%, and marking the second highest voting rate since 1989. Despite her opponents being backed by major political parties – Masuda by the leading LDP, and Torigoe by a four party electoral alliance – Koike easily took the lead and attained her victory of 2,912,628 votes; over one million votes apart from Masuda, who fell second with 1,793,453 votes.

Still, her win wasn’t without its challenges, as Koike was subjected to insults such as former Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara comment to voters: “We cannot leave Tokyo to a woman with too much make-up.”

Koike’s campaign appealed to those in favor of the push towards female empowerment, which is also supported by the Abe administration. She stressed the cruciality of improving child care services, and solving labor shortages by women’s advancement into the workplace. She will also focus on budget reforms for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and transparency in politics, especially in light of the trend of governors resigning mid-way through term over the past two years.

According to an article by the BBC, Koike announced to supporters: “I will lead Tokyo politics in an unprecedented manner, a Tokyo you have never seen. While feeling the weight of this result, I want to thoroughly push the metropolitan government forward as the new governor.”

What do you think – will Koike be able to step up and change things for the better?

Image via ld_blogos