De­fy­ing the party pays off for Yuriko

The Myanmar Times - - World -

TOKYO’S new gov­er­nor Yuriko Koike yes­ter­day cred­ited her land­slide vic­tory to hav­ing stood up to the pow­ers that be in Ja­pan’s rul­ing party who didn’t want her to run.

Ms Koike, 64, was elected Tokyo’s first fe­male gov­er­nor in the July 31 vote, win­ning more than 2.9 mil­lion votes, far out­pac­ing the nearly 1.8 mil­lion bal­lots cast for clos­est chal­lenger Hiroya Ma­suda.

Mr Ma­suda, a for­mer gov­er­nor of Iwate pre­fec­ture in north­ern Ja­pan, was the favoured can­di­date of Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe’s rul­ing Lib­eral Demo­cratic Party (LDP) and its coali­tion part­ner.

The LDP spurned Ms Koike, an LDP mem­ber, for fail­ing to seek its ap­proval be­fore an­nounc­ing her can­di­dacy, with a top party of­fi­cial call­ing her “self­ish”.

Ms Koike, how­ever, had the last laugh after her cam­paign drew huge crowds dur­ing street ral­lies ahead of the vote.

“I fought this race with­out sup­port from the party, and peo­ple joked I was like the sole player in a the­atre com­pany,” she said.

“But in the end it al­lowed us to move freely rather than re­strict­ing us in the cam­paign.”

The elec­tions were called after pre­vi­ous gov­er­nor Yoichi Ma­su­zoe re­signed over a fi­nan­cial scan­dal in­volv­ing the lav­ish use of pub­lic funds on ho­tels and spa trips – the sec­ond suc­ces­sive Tokyo leader to quit.

A key chal­lenge fac­ing Ms Koike will be to get a grip on the city’s trou­bled path to host­ing the 2020 Sum­mer Olympics, which has been plagued by scan­dals and cost over­runs from the very start.

She vowed to be trans­par­ent on the bud­get and re­store the trust of voters in the sprawl­ing me­trop­o­lis of 13.6 mil­lion peo­ple.

Her de­feat of Mr Ma­suda, a vet­eran ad­min­is­tra­tor who had won plau­dits as gov­er­nor of north­east­ern Iwate for 12 years, was a huge em­bar­rass­ment for the con­ser­va­tive party.

Chief Cabi­net Sec­re­tary Yoshi­hide Suga, the gov­ern­ment’s top spokesman, ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment that Mr Ma­suda lost but hinted the LDP could work with Ms Koike.

“It is im­por­tant for the cen­tral gov­ern­ment to co­op­er­ate (with the new gov­er­nor) for the ben­e­fit of the Ja­panese peo­ple,” he said

The party hav­ing backed the wrong horse is also em­bar­rass­ing for Mr Abe, who has vowed to im­prove con­di­tions for women in male-dom­i­nated Ja­pan so they can bet­ter con­trib­ute to the econ­omy by tak­ing se­nior po­si­tions in busi­ness and gov­ern­ment.

But he per­son­ally never cam­paigned with Mr Ma­suda at his street ral­lies, while lo­cal me­dia re­ported that the prime min­is­ter, who had once placed Ms Koike in key na­tional se­cu­rity posts, may have tried to dis­tance him­self from his party’s harsh stance to­wards her. –

Photo: AFP

New gov­er­nor Yuriko Koike says she will tackle the bal­loon­ing cost of the Tokyo Olympics.

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