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Tokyo governor Koike to run for re-election in July, paper says
[TOKYO] Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, the first woman to win election to one of the highest-profile posts in Japanese politics, has decided to run for re-election in a vote set for July, the Yomiuri newspaper said.
The former television newscaster looks set to sail to victory, riding on public support for her management of the coronavirus crisis, including near-daily media appearances to explain her policies.
A poll this week found she was rated better than Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on containing Covid-19.
Ms Koike plans to formally declare her candidacy next month and run as an independent, the newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing unidentified officials. The vote is scheduled for July 5.
The election in Tokyo would be the biggest in Japan since it was hit by Covid-19 and is likely to require measures aimed at preventing a further spread of the virus during voting in the city of more than 13 million people.
The Tokyo governor has hinted at a run for re-election for months, which would allow her to be in office when Tokyo is set to host the Olympics in 2021.
But the games - which were pushed back from this July due to the pandemic - remain in a precarious position, with the virus still raging and costs for the US$12 billion (S$17.01 billion) sports extravaganza continuing to mount.
Four years ago, Ms Koike resigned from her seat in parliament to run in the capital's election. Making strong use of social media and pledging to cut the cost of hosting the Olympics, the former Environment Minister beat 20 opponents, including one backed by Mr Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), of which she had been a prominent member.
Ms Koike then tried to capitalise on her position by launching a bid to topple Mr Abe, which failed when he called a snap general election before she was fully prepared.
Despite lingering rancour, Ms Koike is likely to have at least the tacit acceptance of the LDP, which will not run a candidate against her this time around. Party secretary-general Toshihiro Nikai told reporters this month that he saw no problem supporting her.
Lawyer and anti-poverty campaigner Kenji Utsunomiya announced on Twitter that he was planning to run, while Mr Takafumi Horie, an entrepreneur who spent time in prison for securities fraud, is also set to throw his hat in the ring, according to the Sankei newspaper.