Newspaper article International New York Times

Voters Elect First Woman as Governor of Tokyo

Newspaper article International New York Times

Voters Elect First Woman as Governor of Tokyo

Article excerpt

Yuriko Koike, a former defense minister, was widely seen as the most right-leaning of the three leading candidates.

Yuriko Koike, a conservative former defense minister of Japan, on Sunday became the first woman elected governor of Tokyo, winning a vote to replace the city's previous governor after he was brought down by a financial scandal.

Ms. Koike's biography is unusual for a Japanese politician, even apart from her gender. A divorced former newscaster, she attended a university in Egypt and speaks fluent Arabic.

She won what, according to early projections by several Japanese media outlets, was essentially a three-way race. Her opponents were a left-wing journalist and another former cabinet minister who was the official candidate of the national governing party, the Liberal Democrats. Ms. Koike, 64, is also a Liberal Democrat, but she broke with the party to seek the governor's post. The role roughly combines duties of an American mayor and a state governor.

"I want to regain the trust of the people of Tokyo," Ms. Koike said after initial projections were broadcast on Sunday night, alluding to the scandal that prompted her predecessor to resign in June.

Ms. Koike was widely seen as the most right-leaning of the three leading candidates. As a member of Parliament, where she had served since 1992 until she resigned her seat in mid-July, she supported conservative causes like removing antiwar provisions from Japan's Constitution, although her move to city politics will put that issue and others outside her official purview.

Women have been elected to governorships in Japan before, but never in Tokyo, which is both the nation's capital and its largest city. In addition to governing a municipality of 13.6 million residents -- the core of what is the world's most populous urban area, with at least 20 million more people in its separately administered suburbs -- Ms. Koike will be responsible for preparing Tokyo for the Olympic Games in 2020. One of her first duties will be to travel to Rio de Janeiro, the site of this year's Games, to represent Tokyo as the event's next host.

Ms. …

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