National

Online popularity of Tokyo gubernatorial candidates largely depends on when they joined the race

Kyodo, Staff Report

There is a wide disparity in the popularity of the social networking accounts of Tokyo gubernatorial election candidates, depending apparently on when each contender joined the race.

Both the ruling and the opposition parties only officially approved their candidates a few days before the campaign for the July 31 election officially kicked off Thursday.

As of 1 p.m. Friday, former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike, who first announced her intention to run in the election late last month, had over 190,000 followers on Twitter and was “liked” by roughly 20,000 users on Facebook. Her posts on SNS include links to videos of her news conferences and stump speeches streamed live via the Niconico website.

Corporate executive Takashi Uesugi, a former journalist, exceeds Koike on Twitter with roughly 320,000 followers.

Meanwhile, those who announced their candidacies at the last minute tend to be lagging behind on SNS.

Former internal affairs minister Hiroya Masuda, who received the backing of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Tokyo chapter earlier this week, launched Twitter and Facebook accounts on Thursday. As of 1 p.m. Friday, 392 users on Twitter and 233 on Facebook had followed him.

Journalist Shuntaro Torigoe has roughly 149,000 accounts following him on Twitter, but had made no posts about the election until Thursday. He announced Tuesday he intends to run for governor of Tokyo after receiving endorsements from the Democratic Party and three other opposition parties.

Since it was first allowed in 2013, political campaigning on the internet has been seen as an important part of strategy in promoting election promises.

During the previous gubernatorial election in 2014, Kazuma Ieiri, an IT company executive, was able to attract roughly 80,000 votes. Although far from being elected, he notably was able to obtain a fair amount of support online.