First Female Governor Of Tokyo Set To Lead Japan Into The 2020 Olympics

Tokyo’s first female governor is set to lead the city into the next Olympics in 2020 with a moral mandate to redeem its honor marred by the disgraceful exits of the last two occupants of the post she is about to occupy.

Yuriko Koike made history in Tokyo to become the city’s first female governor after the Japanese media announced her lead on Sunday evening, beating 20 contenders amid an ill-tempered gubernatorial race marked by misogyny and mudslinging.

According to Japan Times,

Her main rivals were former internal affairs minister Hiroya Masuda, the preferred choice of the LDP-Komeito ruling coalition [of which Koike is also a member], and veteran journalist Shuntaro Torigoe, who was backed by the main opposition bloc led by the Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party.

“Final tallies showed Koike won 2,912,628 votes, far surpassing Masuda’s 1,793,453 votes and Torigoe’s 1,346,103 votes. Voter turnout, meanwhile, hit 59.73 percent, up 13.59 percentage points from the 46.14 percent turnout registered in Tokyo’s last gubernatorial election in February 2014.”

Tokyo’s first female governor will replace Yoichi Masuzoe, who upon admission of excessive spending of taxpayers’ money, tendered his resignation in June.

Ironically, Masuzoe’s mandate as governor came into play as a result of a funding scandal involving his immediate predecessor, Naoki Inose, at the time when Tokyo had just won the right to host the 2020 Olympics.

For her part, the first female governor of Japan’s capital vowed to “return Tokyo to its position as Asia’s leading international financial capital by making full use of the city’s ‘special economic zone strategy,'” Japan Times added.

1st female governor
Yuriko Koike, center, former defense minister and candidate for the Tokyo's gubernatorial election, delivers a speech to passerby in the Tsukiji area of Tokyo, Japan, Friday, July 22, 2016. (Photo by Eugene Hoshiko/AP Images)

Quoted by the Associated Press, Koike, 64, also promised to push “for a Tokyo where people’s lives will be better, and everyone can shine – men and women, children and adults, the elderly and the disabled.”

Standing against the backdrop of the mess created by Masuzoe in preparation for the 2020 Olympics, Tokyo’s first female governor has her eyes set on investigating the former governor’s excessive spending and putting in place preventive measures to get rid of another grave misconduct.

In addition, she also plans to address the longtime lack of childcare facilities that robs women of equal opportunity with men for employment, the Associated Press noted.

A graduate of Cairo University and a former newscaster before she entered politics, Koike served her country as defense and environment minister before she set herself in a bid to become Tokyo’s first female governor, although deprived of her pro-American party’s support.

This could have been her choice though, as Prof. Masaru Kaneko of Keiko University School of Economics said, who was quoted by The Guardian.

“She opposes participation in regional elections by non-Japanese people, is against the system of Korean schools that operates in Japan and does not want to see foreign immigration into Japan.”

Prof. Kaneko believes that Koike performed well in the election by appealing to votes of sympathy while also touting “hardline exclusionist policies.”

1st female governor
A man adjusts a display for a 2020 Tokyo Olympic countdown event at Haneda airport in Tokyo, Sunday, July 24, 2016. The giant globe is made from 2,020 origami paper cranes. (Phot by Shizuo Kambayashi/AP Images)

Directly linked to Koike’s mandate as Tokyo’s first female governor is her immediate predecessor’s gross mishandling of funds for the 2020 Olympics, which turned out to have cost her country a staggering $17 billion, six times the original amount, according to The Guardian.

What therefore lies before Koike is a challenging task of leading her countrymen with pride into the 2020 Olympics that would showcase what Japan has to offer to the rest of the world, which was nearly squandered by Masuzoe.

“I would like to review the basis for the budget, so that I can clarify for the eyes of Tokyo residents how much they would have to pay,” she said, as reported by The Guardian.

Whether she would be true to her promise “to implement new policies that no one has ever seen,” as she told her supporters, many of them women, still remains to be seen.

For some observers, however, given her background as an environment minister, Tokyo’s first female governor’s policies are more likely to be largely eco-friendly.

As Prof. Andrew De Wit of Rikko University said, who was quoted by The Guardian,

“The big deal, the really big deal is infrastructure development, and 2020 coincides with timetables for low carbon targets… The Olympics provide Tokyo with the chance to grab the mantle of leadership on emissions.”

[Photo by Shizuo Kambayashi/AP Photo]