Koike re­signs

Tokyo gov­er­nor re­signs af­ter crush­ing elec­tion de­feat

The Star Malaysia - - World -

Tokyo gov­er­nor steps down as leader of her party af­ter suf­fer­ing a crush­ing elec­tion de­feat.

TOKYO: Tokyo gov­er­nor Yuriko Koike (pic), once seen as a pos­si­ble first Ja­panese fe­male prime min­is­ter, stepped down as leader of her party af­ter suf­fer­ing a crush­ing elec­tion de­feat last month.

Vow­ing to do away with “old pol­i­tics”, the charis­matic for­mer tele­vi­sion an­chor­woman launched a new party in Septem­ber that as­pired to of­fer an al­ter­na­tive to the long-gov­ern­ing Lib­eral Demo­cratic Party and its leader Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe in the Oct 22 snap elec­tions.

Her new “Party of Hope” fielded 235 can­di­dates for the poll but won a mere 50 seats while Abe’s rul­ing coali­tion grabbed a two-thirds ma­jor­ity.

Koike’s sup­port im­ploded par­tially be­cause she failed to stand her­self in the elec­tion – con­fus­ing vot­ers who did not know who would be premier if she won.

In opin­ion polls con­ducted by the Sankei Shim­bun at the week­end, sup­port for her party dropped to 3.9% from 9.5% last month, with more than 77% of re­spon­dents call­ing on her to con­cen­trate on her job as Tokyo gov­er­nor.

“Step­ping down as the head, I want to sup­port you in an ap­pro­pri­ate ca­pac­ity,” Koike told a party con­fer­ence af­ter it se­lected its exec- utive mem­bers.

Koike said she would stay within the party while fo­cus­ing on her job as gov­er­nor of Tokyo, with the cap­i­tal set to host the Sum­mer Olympics in 2020.

“I have fin­ished my re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as the founder,” she told re­porters.

“As gov­er­nor I will put the met­ro­pol­i­tan ad­min­is­tra­tion first and co­op­er­ate with law­mak­ers of a re­born Party of Hope,” she added.

The 65-year-old was elected Tokyo gov­er­nor last year, one of sev­eral jobs the trail­blazer has been the first woman to fill.

She once com­plained that Ja­pan has not just a glass ceil­ing but an “iron plate” hold­ing women back.

The cre­ation of the “Party of Hope” sent shock­waves through Ja­panese pol­i­tics and caused the im­me­di­ate im­plo­sion of the main op­po­si­tion party, as scores of mem­bers pinned their colours to the Koike mast. But crit­ics at­tacked her both for lack­ing a clear pol­icy plat­form and for tak­ing a dic­ta­to­rial ap­proach to the new party – she re­port­edly forced po­ten­tial mem­bers to sign a pledge that was leaked to the me­dia.

“It was a com­plete de­feat,” Koike ad­mit­ted af­ter the elec­tion, ac­knowl­edg­ing she had been guilty of “ar­ro­gance”.

Since she first won an up­per house seat in 1992, Koike has fre­quently changed po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tions but al­ways stayed close to pow­er­ful bosses.

She joined the LDP in 2002, and be­came en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter in 2003 and the first woman de­fence min­is­ter in 2007 dur­ing Abe’s first short stint as a prime min­is­ter.

In 2016, she de­fied LDP lead­ers and won a land­slide vic­tory against the party’s can­di­date in the Tokyo gu­ber­na­to­rial elec­tion, por­tray­ing the long-gov­ern­ing party as be­ing con­trolled by se­cre­tive, waste­ful bosses.

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