Renho’s Tactics for Tokyo’s Climactic Showdown Against Governor Koike | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Renho’s Tactics for Tokyo’s Climactic Showdown Against Governor Koike

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Renho (left), who announced her candidacy for the Tokyo gubernatorial election, and her opponent, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike

The Tokyo gubernatorial election (announced on June 20, with voting on July 7) is heating up.

Facing Yuriko Koike, who aims for her third term as governor, are Renho, a member of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Shinji Ishimaru, the mayor of Akitakata City, Hiroshima Prefecture, Toshio Tamogami, a former Air Self-Defense Force chief of staff, and celebrity Kuniaki Shimizu, among others. All eyes are on the direction of the voters’ choices.

“Renho’s candidacy announcement has sparked a sudden surge in interest. Even the initial speculation suggests a head-to-head battle with Governor Koike. It seems that Ishimaru may have been overshadowed. While popular as a video streamer, his recognition in Tokyo is lacking. He might risk being overshadowed,” said a reporter from a national newspaper’s social department.

“The ‘Koike vs. Renho’ showdown, dubbed the ‘Women’s Summit Battle,’ is incredibly attention-grabbing. Both are projecting strong female images, so there are many skeptical faces among the older generation.”

They continued.

“Governor Koike faces allegations of academic fraud, while Renho faces allegations of ‘dual nationality,’ but it seems both will ‘shelve’ attacks on scandals during the election campaign,” said the same national newspaper reporter.

Renho’s decision to run at this juncture stems from three reasons.

Firstly, it’s due to the victory of Yasutomo Suzuki, a former mayor of Hamamatsu City endorsed by the Constitutional Democratic Party and the National Democratic Party, in the Shizuoka gubernatorial election held on the 26th. The distrust of the Liberal Democratic Party stemming from the slush fund issue is still perceived as strong.

The second was the Metropolitan Assembly by-election in the Meguro Ward constituency, held on the same day (with two seats available). While the Constitutional Democratic Party’s former incumbent, Shou Nishizaki, secured victory, the candidate endorsed by Governor Koike from the Liberal Democratic Party, former Lower House member Kyoko Izawa, lost. In the final stages of the election campaign, Izawa affixed stickers with Governor Koike’s photograph and the words “I support” onto her campaign posters, declaring, 


“I am the one who can work with Governor Koike.” 


But she fell short of the victory line.


It’s said that Hagiuda Koichi, chairman of the Tokyo Metropolitan Chapter of the LDP, relied on his support in the gubernatorial election to request Governor Koike’s assistance. However, the result was a dismal defeat. There’s clearly a shadow over Governor Koike’s political influence. 


The third factor is that Renho has long been exploring a switch to the House of Representatives and can still showcase her presence even if she loses the gubernatorial race. As mentioned earlier, a political reporter states, 


“Renho has contested in the House of Councillors elections three times, with her vote count decreasing from 1.7 million to 1.1 million to 670,000. The gubernatorial election is an excellent stage for a comeback. The only concern is whether Prime Minister Kishida will impulsively call for a snap general election, but such a possibility is deemed unrealistic.”


On the other hand, Governor Koike won 3.66 million votes in the previous election in 2020. 


She’s exceedingly formidable in elections. This time, she’s assured of full backing from the Tokyo Metropolitan Chapter of the LDP, in addition to support from Hagiuda, under a secret agreement. Strangely, despite being an opposition party, the National Democratic Party (led by Yuichiro Tamaki) is highly likely to ally with Governor Koike.


“The key lies in how much support Komeito will provide. In the recent Lower House and Meguro Ward by-elections, they deliberately refrained from exerting their mobilization power. On the flip side, in constituencies where they were competing with the opposition, depending on Komeito’s moves, there might have been a chance of victory.


Although Komeito’s decline as a ‘vote-gathering machine’ has been pointed out, if the voter turnout decreases and it becomes a fierce battle, their influence will kick in. Governor Koike definitely desires support from the Komeito Women’s Division,” says a political insider.


Renho has declared her candidacy as an independent, but her support comes from the Constitutional and Communist parties. If they join forces with Taro Yamamoto’s “Reiwa Shinsengumi,” things will become unpredictable.


“Yamamoto ran in the gubernatorial election four years ago and garnered around 650,000 votes. While there are various relations with the Constitutional Party, they won’t be able to take down Governor Koike unless they form an alliance,” says a political reporter from a sports newspaper.


According to election analysts, the current situation seems to favor Governor Koike with a 60:40 ratio, but in politics, anything can happen. What will actually transpire remains to be seen.

  • PHOTO Sota Shima (Koike) and Afro (Renho)

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