Incumbent Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike won the gubernatorial election on Sunday to secure a third successive four-year term. NHK’s exit polls showed that the 71-year-old, who was supported by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, its junior coalition partner Komeito and Tomin First no Kai, had almost double the number of votes as runner-up Shinji Ishimaru, the former mayor of Akitakata city in Hiroshima Prefecture, who was running as an independent candidate. Renho Saito, backed by the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party, who was expected to be Koike’s closest challenger, surprisingly finished third.  

Yuriko Koike: ‘Toughest Election Campaign I Have Ever Experienced’

“Our challenge is how to proceed with digital transformation as industries have changed significantly. Furthermore, the environment for women’s empowerment is insufficient compared to other parts of the world. We must raise up our efforts to keep improving Tokyo,” said Koike after winning. She added, “I received threats and heckling. It was the toughest election campaign I have ever experienced.” During her campaign, Tokyo’s first ever female governor emphasized her achievements in her first two terms, such as making high school education effectively free. She also vowed to expand free nursery care in the capital.  

Ishimaru, a former banker who focused on advancing the economy and industry of Tokyo, saw his popularity rise among young voters thanks to his social media posts and YouTube videos. “I did all I could,” he told supporters after the polls closed. It was a disappointing result for Renho, who gave up her Upper House seat when she filed her candidacy. She commented, “I was able to express my thoughts from the bottom of my heart thanks to the support of many people, and I did everything I could.” She added that Sunday’s result came down to her “lack of ability.” 

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