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Tokyo Gov. Koike stumps for LDP-backed candidate in Okinawa gubernatorial race

On Sept. 22 and 23 Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike gave speeches in Okinawa in support of the candidate backed by the Liberal Democratic Party and others in the prefecture’s gubernatorial election, slated for Sept. 30. The ex-LDP politician has been critical of her former party since her election to the governorship, but she reportedly accepted a “request by the LDP headquarters” this time.


On Sept. 22, Koike delivered a stump speech for Atsushi Sakima, the candidate backed by the LDP, the Japan Innovation Party [Nippon Ishin] and the Party of Hope, in Ginowan, where he once served as mayor, and other places. On Sept. 23, she gave a speech from a campaign truck in Urasoe, playing up her achievements in “promoting tourism” as minister in charge of Okinawa affairs.


Koike’s speeches in support of the candidate backed by the Abe government are giving rise to confusion among local voters as she challenged the LDP in the Tokyo gubernatorial race and general elections on several occasions. “She is an advocate of ‘advancing the interests of Tokyoites,” said a local resident. “I don’t know why she is here.” 


On Sept. 21, the day before she flew to Okinawa, she questioned Prime Minister Abe’s enthusiasm to revise the Constitution by saying “I doubt if the timing is right to consolidate opinions into a single issue on constitutional revision.” In the mayoral race in Shinagawa Ward, which will be officially announced on Sept. 23, the Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites First Party), in which she serves as special advisor, endorses a rookie candidate together with the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ), the Japan Communist Party and the Liberal Party in direct competition against the LDP and Komeito, which support the incumbent.  


On Sept. 23 Koike appeared in a traditional “kariyushi” shirt before voters. “I like her because she speaks and acts in a straightforward fashion,” said a female voter in her 60s. A senior official of the LDP Okinawa chapters commented: “I don’t know why she is here but we welcome her as long as we can garner as many votes as possible because of her presence.”


On the other hand, an LDP member of the Lower House expressed concern that “Sakima is a pragmatic politician and he makes an impression different from

Koike’s. I don’t want voters to mistakenly believe he is looking to become a person like Koike (who is capable of conveying a powerful message).” Sakima is receiving support from Koike and many others outside Okinawa, which led a municipal assembly member who supports him to say: “The election is becoming chaotic.” (Abridged)

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