Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Tokyo to Vote for New Governor amidst Olympics, Financial Scandals | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A view of the derelict medals podium at the disused ski jump from the Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympics on Mount Igman, near Sarajevo September 19, 2013. Abandoned and left to crumble into oblivion, most of the 1984 Winter Olympic venues in Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo have been reduced to rubble by neglect as much as the 1990s conflict that tore apart the former Yugoslavia. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Tokyo- Tokyo residents will vote for a new governor on Sunday 31 July. However, surveys show that former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike is the front-runner. Koike has tight relations with the Arab World, yet differences are slight between Koike and her two other opponents: politician Hiroya Masuda and journalist Shuntaro Torigoe.

Current elections are taking place following successive financial scandals that led former governors to resign. For instance, previous governor Yoichi Masuzoe resigned in July after scandal of him using official funds to pay for his holidays. His predecessor, Naoki Inose also quit three years ago for similar reasons.

Besides the mission to put the Olympic file back on track, the new governor will have to deal with a number of critical issues including: providing sufficient number of daycare centers to help mothers enter the labor market, offering essential institutions for the elderly and executing giant renovations in infrastructure to face earthquakes and natural disasters that might occur in Tokyo, a city of 30 million residents.

In this context, every candidate is trying to prove his leadership potentials. Masuda reminds the voters of his achievements that granted him a huge popularity, while Torigoe focuses on his commitment since decades to social problems. As for Koike, she sheds light on her wide experience in the local and international political field.

Koike stresses its independence and individuality as a female candidate for this highly important political position. She also considers herself similar to Hillary Clinton as both are trying to change the stereotyped vision of presidency and leadership.

Koike, a former student at Cairo University, is one of the reliable figures who were chosen by Liberal Democratic Party of Japan to link Japan with the Arab World. As a parliamentarian, she chairs five Japanese-Arab committees, has served as a former minister of environment and defense and was assigned to capital positions in the party. However, her political dispute with current Prime Minister Shinzō Abe ruined her chances of being Democratic Party candidate.