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Editorial: Discussing post-coronavirus outlook is desirable in Tokyo gov. election

  • June 13, 2020
  • , The Japan News , 1:32 p.m.
  • English Press

There will soon be an election to determine who will steer the capital. It is desirable to judge whether candidates are capable of overcoming the crisis.


The Tokyo gubernatorial election will officially be announced on June 18 and held on July 5. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike has announced her intention to run for reelection. Koike said, “I will restore the economy of Tokyo to a healthy state. [We] must overcome the battle against the new coronavirus.”


In response to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Koike was quick to ask businesses to suspend operations, and to announce a policy of providing financial assistance as cooperation money to businesses that complied with the request.


The economy of Tokyo is larger than that of a single country in Northern Europe or Southeast Asia. Though the Tokyo metropolitan government is financially well-off, many people appreciate the fact that the initiative was taken to support entities including cash-strapped small and midsize enterprises all the same.


Depending on the situation of infections, Koike called on Tokyo residents to take various steps. She gave people the impression that she has a great ability to disseminate information. However, as she often used unfamiliar words, there was criticism that it was difficult to understand what she said.


In her first term, Koike temporarily postponed the relocation of Tsukiji market due to concern over soil contamination in Toyosu, which was a candidate site. The metropolitan government also enacted an ordinance to prevent passive smoking that is stricter than national standards. There were pros and cons to each issue. How will Tokyo residents judge these policies?


Kenji Utsunomiya, a former chairman of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, and Taisuke Ono, former vice governor of Kumamoto Prefecture, also plan to run in the election.


The Liberal Democratic Party fielded its own candidate in the last election, but this time the party has decided not to. The LDP probably judged that there was no chance of winning even if it put a candidate up against Koike.


While the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan will support Utsunomiya, the Democratic Party for the People decided to let its members choose which candidates they will vote for. This may have a negative impact on the two parties’ future cooperation in national elections.


The battle against the coronavirus will continue. The main candidates need to show how to proceed with measures to prevent infection and the outlook after the situation has settled.


The Tokyo metropolitan government will end up spending more than ¥1 trillion to fight the virus. The fiscal adjustment fund, which is equivalent to the metropolitan government’s savings, is expected to decrease to one-twentieth. How to secure financial resources for the Tokyo government will become an issue.


There is also the weighty task of smoothly hosting the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, which was postponed until next year. The central and the metropolitan governments plan to simplify the operation of the Games to prevent infections. It is expected to narrow down the number of spectators and omit some parts of the opening and closing ceremonies.


If the Olympics are canceled, the economy will be hit hard. It is essential to create an environment in which the event can be held safely.


As the population is increasingly concentrated in Tokyo, how should we create a city that is easy to live in? Are we fully prepared for an inland earthquake in the capital, or a disaster during a coronavirus outbreak? The candidates for governor must also discuss these mid- to long-term issues.


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