Tokyo, May 25 (Jiji Press)–Major Japanese opposition parties are finding difficulties in fielding a candidate for the Tokyo gubernatorial election scheduled for July 5.
Some opposition figures have resigned themselves to accepting the re-election of incumbent Yuriko Koike, 67. They find it unwise to put up a challenger to the governor, who is riding on a wave of popularity from the capital’s fight against COVID-19.
“We still have nearly a month” until candidacies must be registered on June 18, Yukio Edano, head of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said Thursday.
The CDPJ, the Democratic Party for the People, the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party had agreed to field a unified candidate for the Tokyo gubernatorial election.
But the political situation has changed due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Koike took a leading role in dealing with the crisis, resulting in a spike in her media exposure.
DPFP leader Yuichiro Tamaki sounded reluctant to battle Koike in the election, saying, “Should we stand in the way of the governor, who is the commander on the field?”
“We should not be involved in the Tokyo gubernatorial election,” a veteran opposition lawmaker said, noting that Tokyo already has about 5,000 infection cases. “It’s a loss by default.”
The opposition bloc also remains unable to find an ideal candidate.
The CDPJ in March asked former vice education minister Kihei Maekawa, 65, to run for the office, but he declined.
Some had expected Taro Yamamoto, 45, leader of minor opposition Reiwa Shinsengumi, to run. However, he said in late April that it would be difficult as he predicts a landslide win for Koike.
The JCP is expected to seek the candidacy of former Japan Federation of Bar Associations President Kenji Utsunomiya, 73. But the CDPJ and the DPFP see him as too progressive.
However, CDPJ members do not want to go down without a fight against Koike, who excluded many of them from the merger between the then Democratic Party and her Party of Hope prior to the last election of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the Diet, Japan’s parliament, in October 2017. The CDPJ was created by lawmakers who left the DP at that time
The CDPJ’s Tokyo chapter is trying to persuade Renho, 52, to run. She was elected to the House of Councillors, the upper chamber, from Tokyo with more than 1.1 million votes in 2016. However, sources say that she is unlikely to stand for the office.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has already given up fielding a candidate against Koike. The party headquarters is considering supporting her.