Koike elected as Tokyo's first woman governor

Former defence minister Yuriko Koike won a landslide victory in Tokyo's gubernatorial election on Sunday, becoming the first woman to lead the Japanese capital, results showed.

With 99 per cent of the ballots counted, Koike, a ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker who is running without the party's endorsement, racked up 2.9 million votes.

"I would like to appreciate all your support," Koike told her rejoicing supporters.

Koike easily defeated former internal affairs minister Hiroya Masuda, backed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's LDP and coalition partner Komeito, who gained 1.79 million votes.

Journalist Shuntaro Torigoe, endorsed by the main opposition Democratic Party and three other parties, collected about 1.3 million votes.

The final voter turnout stood at 59.7 per cent, up 13.6 percentage points from the last election in February 2014, when only 46.1 per cent of the electorate cast their vote, electoral authorities said.

"While feeling the weight of this result, I would like to thoroughly push the metropolitan government forward as the new governor," said Koike, who is set to serve a four-year term as governor.

The Tokyo race was closely watched as the next governor will play a major role in making the 2020 Olympics a success.

When Koike, a former TV anchorwoman who also served as environment minister, gave up seeking the party's endorsement earlier this month, she told a news conference, "I think I'll end up failing to receive the endorsement and I've decided to dare to jump from a cliff."

Koike has garnered broad support from non-affiliated voters and also attracted some LDP and Komeito backers by criticizing the male-dominated LDP Tokyo branch, an analyst said.

Referring to the Tokyo branch during the campaign, Koike said, "Honestly, we don't know where and what it decides. It's like a black box. It should be reformed."

Koike also vowed to "put the metropolitan government back into the hands of Tokyo residents."

A record 21 candidates were running for the gubernatorial election to succeed Yoichi Masuzoe, a former health minister who resigned from the governor's post in June after conceding that he spent his political funds for private purposes. He was also criticized over his costly business trips abroad.

Last update: Sun, 31/07/2016 - 21:08

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