Campaigning begins for Tokyo gubernatorial polls

The election campaign for the governor of Tokyo began on Thursday with the incumbent Yuriko Koike as the favourite.

The campaign is set to focus on management of the COVID-19 crisis and postponement of the Olympics to 2021 as core issues, reports Efe news.

Some 11 candidates, including Koike, presented their candidacy for the July 5 elections to the Electoral Administration Commission as of 10 a.m., according to Japanese news agency Kyodo News.

Candidates can present their applications before 5 p.m.

Koike, 67, became the first female governor of Tokyo in 2016 and seeks re-election as an independent candidate.

She led the battle against the novel coronavirus pandemic in Japan, and has proposed setting up an establishment equivalent to the US’ Center of Disease Control and Prevention in order to prepare for the possible second wave.

Tokyo has recorded the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country with 5,633 infections reported up until Wednesday.

The Japanese capital has seen a rise in the number of cases after the state of emergency was lifted on May 25.

A graduate of Cairo University, Koike has expressed her support for women’s empowerment, proposed measures to reduce the number of children on the waiting lists of the capital’s daycare centres and enthusiastically promoted the Olympics, which was postponed to July 2021 due to the pandemic.

Her challengers include Kenji Utsunomiya, a 73-year-old lawyer and former head of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, and 45-year-old Taro Yamamoto, leader of the anti-establishment party Reiwa Shinsengumi.