Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike will announce her candidacy around June 10 for this summer’s gubernatorial election in the capital, a source familiar with the situation said Wednesday.
Koike, a former defense minister, became governor in 2016 without the backing of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party. But the party is considering backing her this time in the July 5 election.
Koike, 67, is preparing to announce her bid for re-election when the current regular session of the metropolitan assembly ends, the source said.
Ensuring a complete recovery from the coronavirus epidemic and holding a successful Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2021 after a one-year delay are expected to be her priorities in the upcoming campaign.
“My focus now is to take steps to deal with the coronavirus and vitalize the economy once again,” Koike told reporters Wednesday, without revealing her intention to seek another four-year term.
The coronavirus outbreak has boosted her media exposure and helped her image as a commander-in-chief at a time when Abe has been perceived as lacking leadership.
She was among the governors who urged a reluctant Abe to declare a state of emergency over the pneumonia-causing virus.
The emergency, declared for Tokyo on April 7, ended Monday, allowing Koike to start a three-stage plan to revive the Japanese capital, which has been the worst-hit among Japan’s 47 prefectures.
In the previous election she clashed with the Tokyo chapter of the ruling party, which supported a different candidate.
However, there are signs in recent weeks that fences have been mended, partly due to the viral outbreak, which required a coordinated approach. LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai, who is close to Abe, is a supporter of Koike.
Major opposition parties are having difficulty in fielding a candidate. Kenji Utsunomiya, who served as president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, and Takashi Tachibana, the head of NHK Kara Kokumin Wo Mamoru To (the party to protect the people from NHK), have already announced their candidacy.