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Record high candidates enter battle for Tokyo governor’s post | The Asahi Shimbun: Breaking


he most crowded race ever for a Tokyo governor’s election kicked off on June 20, with dozens of people claiming to be best suited to lead the nation’s capital.

Voters will pick one on July 7.

At 8:30 a.m., 23 people, including incumbent Yuriko Koike, and challengers such as Renho registered their candidacies at the metropolitan government’s building in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward.

That number surpassed the previous record of 22 candidates for the 2020 gubernatorial election. By 5 p.m., when registration closed, 56 people had officially entered the race, including 24 related to party to protect the public from NHK.

Koike, 71, held a campaign kick-off ceremony at her campaign office in Shinjuku Ward at around 10:30 a.m.

“We can’t afford to stop and stand still now,” the two-term governor said. “Tokyo must get better.”

Koike, who is running as an independent, did not seek the endorsement of any political party.

The scandal-ridden Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, Komeito, are supporting Koike on a voluntary basis.

But no Diet members nor senior metropolitan assembly members of the two parties appeared at Koike’s kick-off ceremony.

Shinji Ishimaru, 41, former mayor of Akitakada in Hiroshima Prefecture, delivered his first speech in front of his campaign office near JR Ichigaya Station at around 10:45 a.m.

“Kindness is no longer felt in politics,” he said. “Let us work for better politics, a better Tokyo, and a better Japan.”

Renho, 56, an Upper House member of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, made her first speech just after 11 a.m. in front of JR Nakano Station.

“I will thoroughly support young people. We must not create a society where people have to give up something,” she said.

Standing on top of a campaign vehicle, Renho also said: “Rent and utilities are expensive in Tokyo. And now prices are so high. What has politics been doing for you? I want to be the leader and change Tokyo for you.”

Top officials of the CDP urged people in the crowd to vote for her.

Toshio Tamogami, 75, a former chief of staff of the Air Self-Defense Force, made his first campaign speech in front of the Tsukiji Outer Market in Chuo Ward at little past 11:10 a.m.

“I want to reclaim Japan, starting from here in Tokyo. I want to make Tokyo a safe and prosperous place to live,” Tamogami said.

He pledged to focus on providing education that gives Japanese people confidence and pride, using artificial intelligence to listen to the opinions of residents, and cutting taxes.

This is Tamogami’s second run for Tokyo governor since 2014. He said he decided to enter the race because the LDP did not field its own candidate, meaning “there would be no one for ordinary conservative Tokyo residents to vote for.”

PRE-CAMPAIGN DEBATE

The Japan National Press Club hosted a joint news conference on June 19 for four candidates—Koike, Renho, Tamogami and Ishimaru.

Topics included the declining birthrate in the capital and redevelopment projects in the city center.

A reporter asked Koike if the metropolitan government’s policy for halting the declining birthrate is heading in the wrong direction.

“I don’t think it’s a mistake,” she said, noting that other areas of Japan have sharper declines in their birthrates.

She stressed she will continue and expand measures to support child rearing, such as providing a monthly allowance of 5,000 yen ($32) for all children under 18, a program introduced in fiscal 2023.

Renho said about the issue, “Many young people are coming (to Tokyo) from rural areas, but the number of poor young people is increasing, and the number of unmarried people is also rising.”

She said certain measures are necessary, such as increasing the take-home pay of working-age people.

Ishimaru said local leaders must resolve the situation in which unmarried people are concentrated in urban areas.

“Competing policies will only result in competition for child-rearing households,” he said.

Tamogami called for the introduction of subsidies that would increase in proportion to the number of children in a family.

The candidates were asked about their stances on the redevelopment project of the Meiji Jingu Gaien area by private companies. The project has been criticized mainly because it requires the felling of hundreds of trees in the leafy area in downtown Tokyo.

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An enlarged photo of Ryuichi Sakamoto at the site of a protest against a redevelopment plan for the Meiji Jingu Gaien area of Tokyo (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Renho said she “will make (the project) stand still for the moment” and “rigorously examine” the process leading to the metropolitan government’s approval of the project.

Koike countered that the project “has already been standing still” because the metropolitan government asked the operators to take tree preservation measures.

Therefore, it is “not going to be a campaign issue,” the governor said.

Ishimaru said his basic understanding of the issue is the same as Koike’s.

Tamogami said the area is “a sacred place” and should be preserved as much as possible.

Some recent media reports have questioned Koike’s educational background, particularly if she graduated from Cairo University.

The governor said she has shown her diploma from Cairo University in the past, proving her graduation.

She also said similar reports doubting her education credentials were released in the previous Tokyo gubernatorial election.

“It was the same four years ago,” she said. “I have to say that this is election interference.”

On June 18, a former aide of Koike filed a criminal complaint with the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, accusing the governor of falsifying her educational background in violation of the Public Offices Election Law.





Read More:Record high candidates enter battle for Tokyo governor’s post | The Asahi Shimbun: Breaking