Campaigning begins for Tokyo gubernatorial polls with Koike as favorite

Tokyo, June 18 (efe-epa) – The election campaign for the governor of Tokyo began on Thursday with the incumbent Yuriko Koike as the favorite.

The campaign is set to focus on management of the COVID-19 crisis and postponement of the Olympics to 2021 as core issues.

Some 11 candidates, including Koike, presented their candidacy for the July 5 elections to the Electoral Administration Commission as of 10 am local time (01:00 GMT), according to Japanese news agency Kyodo News. Candidates can present their applications before 5 pm (08:00 GMT).

Koike, 67, became the first woman governor of Tokyo in 2016 and seeks re-election as an independent candidate.

She led the battle against the novel coronavirus epidemic in Japan, and has proposed setting up an establishment equivalent to the United States’ Center of Disease Control and Prevention in order to prepare for the possible second wave of coronavirus infections.

Tokyo has recorded the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country with 5,633 infections reported up until Wednesday. The Japanese capital has seen a rise in the number of cases after the state of emergency was lifted on May 25.

A graduate of Cairo University, Koike has expressed her support for women’s empowerment, proposed measures to reduce the number of children on the waiting lists of the capital’s daycare centers and enthusiastically promoted the Olympics, which was postponed to July 2021 due to the pandemic.

Her challengers include Kenji Utsunomiya, a 73-year-old lawyer and former head of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, and 45-year-old Taro Yamamoto, leader of the anti-establishment party Reiwa Shinsengumi.

Utsunomiya will be running for the governor’s position for the third time and is backed by the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the Social Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party.

His proposals include strengthening measures against the novel coronavirus, increasing testing and providing financial help to the affected medical centers and businesses.

Yamamoto, who promotes social and anti-nuclear policies, completed his first term as a member of the upper house of the Tokyo constituency between 2013 and 2019.

Former Kumamoto governor Taisuke Ono, 46, is another candidate and is backed by the opposition Innovation Party, which is championing the implementation of measures to revive Tokyo’s COVID-19-hit economy. EFE-EPA


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