Renho’s Enthusiasm vs. Koike’s Silence, Turmoil in Tokyo Government | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Renho’s Enthusiasm vs. Koike’s Silence, Turmoil in Tokyo Government

One month to go until the Tokyo gubernatorial election, will it be a de facto runoff?

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After finishing her policy speech, Ms. Koike continues to remain silent. What is the true meaning behind her silence?

Against the backdrop of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Main Building, Senator Renho (56, in the second picture) beams with a smile. On May 29, under the guise of a “greeting tour,” she visited the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly and, in front of a FRIDAY photographer, displayed a confident expression as if she had already secured victory.

The Tokyo gubernatorial election, scheduled for July 7, is seen as a virtual one-on-one battle between Renho, who announced her candidacy on May 27, and the incumbent Governor Yuriko Koike (71).

“I aim to confront the Tokyo gubernatorial election this summer with the goal of resetting Koike’s administration.”

Making this declaration against Governor Koike at her candidacy announcement, Renho “stormed” the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly two days later. She conducted rounds of greetings to various factions and received a warm welcome, including bouquets from Communist Party members.

However, Akira Sawa, a former Tokyo Metropolitan Government official who served as Director of Planning and Coordination, questions Renho’s approach.

“While her greeting rounds received significant coverage and overshadowed Governor Koike’s policy speech on the same day, the merits seem to end there. I feel that Renho’s flashy moves this time may not work positively. A parliamentarian who often angrily raises his voice in the National Diet is frolicking in the metropolitan government confusing the 40,000 metropolitan government employees as to who is the real person.”

While Renho is pushing forward aggressively, Koike continues to remain silent.


“Originally, Koike likely intended to declare her candidacy on the first day of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly on the 29th, but Renho took the initiative, leaving her unable to make the announcement. According to opposition-conducted polls, Renho leads by 10 points, which gives her a numerical advantage. However, it’s expected to be an unfamiliar defensive election for Koike, causing her to feel rushed.” (National newspaper political desk)

Both are former news broadcasters with experience in national politics, and they have no shortage of name recognition. Koike gained attention with mini-skirts during her first election win in 1992, while Renho attracted notice in her days as a celebrity for wearing high-cut swimsuits. Despite these similarities, neither has been able to maintain the popularity they once enjoyed. Political journalist Hirokazu Kakutani points this out.

“Renho held seven ministerial positions, but is mostly remembered for her role in government spending reviews. She has strong communication skills and debating prowess, but questions remain about her policies.

Koike appears to have achievements like free high school tuition and COVID-19 prevention subsidies, made possible by Tokyo’s budget being comparable to that of Nordic countries. However, allegations of academic credential inflation, highlighted in monthly magazines, have tarnished her clean image like a body blow.”


In reality, there’s a sense of uncertainty permeating the Tokyo Metropolitan Government offices. According to senior officials:


“Many frontline managers feel overwhelmed by Governor Koike’s impromptu initiatives and performances continuing in her administration. On the other hand, if Renho adopts a stance of ‘I’ll conduct rigorous reviews if I become governor,’ us bureaucrats would also hesitate. Despite criticisms of handouts, households with children under 18 in Tokyo receive a monthly subsidy of ¥5,000 per child alongside free tuition. If such subsidies were subject to review, it could make Renho’s voter support challenging.” 


Former Tokyo Metropolitan Government official Sawa also analyzes the gubernatorial election as “lacking a decisive factor.”


“Will the successor to Koike be a scrutinizer, a celebrity, or a former Self-Defense Force officer? Some say having multiple choices is good, but in reality, the options are too narrow, leaving Tokyo residents in a dilemma.”


Will the eight-year era of Koike’s administration come to an end? Tokyo residents are undoubtedly facing a critical choice.

Renho, smiling broadly with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building in the background, also showed a cheerful expression when receiving a bouquet from Communist Party Tokyo Assembly Leader Tomoko Oyama.
Renho, when she won the Clarion Girl contest in 1988, showed off her toned legs from beneath a high-cut swimsuit.
Exclusive Unpublished Photo: Renho’s Enthusiasm vs. Koike’s Silence – Former Newscasters’ Showdown on the Edge, Tokyo Metropolitan Government in Turmoil.
Exclusive Unpublished Photo: Renho’s Enthusiasm vs. Koike’s Silence – Former Newscasters’ Showdown on the Edge, Tokyo Metropolitan Government in Turmoil.

From the June 21, 2024 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO Takeshi Kinugawa (1st and 2nd photos)

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