Prepared Insurance for Renho Who Declared Candidacy for Tokyo Governor Election Despite Potential Defeat by Governor Koike | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Prepared Insurance for Renho Who Declared Candidacy for Tokyo Governor Election Despite Potential Defeat by Governor Koike

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Renho unveils her manifesto

On June 18, Governor Yuriko Koike (71) and Renho (56) clashed over their manifestos for the Tokyo gubernatorial election. Governor Koike, aiming for her third term, proclaimed “Tokyo Great Reform 3.0” and stated this during an online press conference starting at 10 a.m.


“I will be running in the upcoming Tokyo gubernatorial election. Moving forward at lightning speed with the people of Tokyo for the sake of Tokyo residents.”

In response, Renho, who is making her first challenge in the gubernatorial election, declared “Towards the Next Tokyo with You: 7 Promises” at a conference room in Akasaka at 2 p.m. the same day, stating:

“We will implement genuine, thorough fiscal and administrative reforms. Governor Koike has made efforts to make the budget visible. Progress has been made, and I sincerely acknowledge that. However, I believe I can do more. It remains a black box where projects have been reviewed. The reform is unclear about the financial basis. I will thoroughly review and allocate the budget to support young people.”

Both Renho and Governor Koike have transitioned from broadcasters to the political arena, boasting outstanding popularity. The upcoming Tokyo gubernatorial election is anticipated to be a head-to-head battle between the two. Renho’s decision to schedule her press conferences to coincide with Governor Koike’s may also stem from this perception.

Just five days after declaring her candidacy, Renho demonstrated her stance during a visit to inspect food aid for impoverished residents in front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building on June 1.

She visited a location where projection mapping, which will receive approximately 4.8 billion yen in taxes over two years, was conducted, and 763 impoverished people gathered.

“After inspecting, I saw people receiving food support right at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s doorstep. It’s truly puzzling that attention isn’t focused here.”

Renho, after concluding her inspection, expressed these sentiments and added:

“I was surprised by the sheer number. I heard there were over 700 people here. They looked like ordinary people you’d see on the streets, including families with children. It was truly shocking to learn that the number of impoverished people is increasing not only among the elderly but also among young people and families raising children.

Regarding projection mapping, should it illuminate daily for 365 days, or would a concentrated period be more effective for tourism and inbound visitors? If we can reduce the budget, we should allocate the surplus to areas in need. That’s reform. The reforms I’ve pursued involve not just cutting and dismantling but reallocating and redistributing budgets. If elected governor, these are the immediate issues I want to address.”

Her actions and words harken back to her time during the Democratic Party administration, where she gained fame for her involvement in project reviews, earning her the nickname “executioner of project review.”

I wonder what Governor Koike thinks about having her press conference schedule overlap with Renho’s.

Renho, who is well-known, has been frequently mentioned as a candidate for the Tokyo governor election. Initially, it was thought that Renho would not run this time either. Amidst such speculation, upon Renho’s decision to run this time, Tokyo Metropolitan Government officials said the following.

“I was honestly surprised by her candidacy. I had heard that she was considering it but hadn’t given a definite nod. The momentum likely stemmed from her clean sweep in the April Lower House by-elections, the Shizuoka gubernatorial election, and the Meguro Ward assembly by-elections where candidates endorsed or recommended by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) continued to win.

However, within the administration, there’s a somewhat dismissive atmosphere. There are jests like ‘Tokyo might end up in second place’ and ‘Our department might get reviewed,’ treated with amusement. On May 29th, she also visited councilors’ rooms as part of a round of greetings to various parliamentary factions, and in the Communist Party’s room, there was a lot of laughter, leaving people bewildered. There’s almost no support for Renho within the administration, and she isn’t seen as likely to win.”

Renho’s most recent election was in the 2022 Upper House Tokyo electoral district, where she secured the fourth position with 670,000 votes. This marks a significant decline compared to her approximately 920,000 votes in her first election win in 2004, about 1.71 million votes in 2010, and around 1.12 million votes in 2016.

The Tokyo gubernatorial election heavily favors the incumbent, with no candidate ever defeating the incumbent before. Furthermore, Governor Koike boasts outstanding popularity, having garnered 3.66 million votes in the election four years ago, marking the second-highest vote tally in history. Renho is expected to face a tough battle, but according to a mid-level member of the Constitutional Democratic Party, there is a prepared “insurance” in case of defeat.

“I’m considering switching from a poverty-stricken senator to the House of Representatives. The 26th district seems likely, and it’s seen as preparation for that. Running for governor will help my name gain recognition, serving as momentum for the House of Representatives election. As long as I don’t suffer a major defeat, there’s a chance for an upset given the resurgence of suspicions about Governor Koike’s alleged graduation from Cairo University.”

The next career move, Tokyo’s 26th district, formed due to changes in electoral constituency numbers, splits the former 3rd district into the new 3rd district and the 26th district, a newly established electoral district.

Former Minister for the Abduction Issue, Jin Matsubara (67), who has an eight-term record in the former 3rd district, is eager to run. Matsubara had hoped to become the branch manager of the 26th district for the Constitutional Democratic Party but was presented with the new 3rd district, leading to a split within the party.

“The 26th district is the main target, and the Tokyo gubernatorial election will also serve as a gauge of voter support through opinion polls. As a countermeasure, consideration is also given to running in the 1st district. Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Banri Kaieda (75), is considering retirement, aiming for succession. Shun Otokita (40), a senator from the Innovation Party, has announced his intention to switch positions but seems confident of overcoming the challenge,” said the lawmaker.

Meanwhile, Governor Koike is showing signs of unease. She has previously closed off her options and shown determination through her political maneuvers, gaining attention by positioning herself as an antagonist in the political landscape.

However, Renho’s sudden candidacy announcement has caught her off guard. She is now being criticized for leaning towards the LDP and risks being cast as the antagonist Governor Koike must confront. This was expressed by a Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly member affiliated with the Tomin First no Kai party.

“On May 28, two days before the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly’s opening session, 52 municipal leaders from Tokyo’s districts and cities visited to request running for a third term. The intention was to announce the candidacy during the policy speech on May 29, the opening day of the assembly. However, Renho held a candidacy announcement press conference on the preceding day, May 27. Leveraging the scheduling of the Shinjuku Ward Mayor, which couldn’t be adjusted for the 28th, she forced the cancellation of the planned candidacy announcement during the assembly’s opening. Despite maintaining outward composure, there’s underlying frustration due to Renho’s overlapping press conferences with Governor Koike’s meetings and inspections.”

Governor Koike faces renewed allegations of academic fraud. On June 16, the same day as the manifesto announcement, former close aide and ex-special advisor to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Toshiro Kojima (75), held a press conference stating his criminal complaint.

Governor Koike’s omission of her final academic record has become contentious. If she doesn’t disclose it, questions about why will undoubtedly arise.

“Because there are no decent people.”

On June 3rd, former controversial YouTuber Hezuma Ryu (33) announced his candidacy on X (formerly Twitter) with this statement. While there were responses on social media like “don’t you say that,” perhaps his observation wasn’t entirely off the mark.

In addition to Governor Koike and Renho, the Tokyo gubernatorial election has attracted over 20 candidates including former Air Self-Defense Force Chief of Staff Toshio Tamogami (75), Akitakata City Mayor Shinji Ishimaru (41) from Hiroshima Prefecture, and entertainer Kuniaki Shimizu (73).

With the showdown between Governor Koike and Renho at its core, the election campaign is set to begin shortly.

  • Interview, text, and photographs Daisuke Iwasaki PHOTO Takeshi Kinugawa (2nd photo)

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