Former defense minister Yuriko Koike and veteran journalist Shuntaro Torigoe are leading the race to become Tokyo governor, with former internal affairs minister Hiroya Masuda in third place, according to the latest Kyodo News survey.
But the two-day telephone survey conducted Saturday and Sunday, just days after official campaigning started for the July 31 election, showed around 40 percent of respondents had not decided who to vote for.
Supporters of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party appear split as LDP Lower House member Koike, 64, is running without the backing of the party, which is supporting Masuda, 64, also a former governor of Iwate Prefecture.
Koike was backed by over 30 percent of LDP supporters and around 30 percent of unaffiliated voters, while proving very popular among women voters, the survey showed.
Despite the backing of the LDP, only about 30 percent of the party’s supporters said they will vote for Masuda, who is also backed by the LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito and Nihon no Kokoro o Taisetsu ni Suru To (Party for Japanese Kokoro).
Torigoe, who is running as the joint candidate of four opposition parties, was backed by around 60 percent of the supporters of the main opposition Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party. The former TV anchorman also had solid support among unaffiliated voters, the survey showed.
In answering a multiple response question regarding which areas the new governor should prioritize, 41.9 percent of respondents selected education and child-rearing support, followed by medical and nursing care at 39.9 percent. Administrative reform was considered a top priority by 28.8 percent and preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games by 9.7 percent.
The telephone survey, covering 1,521 randomly selected households with eligible voters in Tokyo, received valid responses from 1,033 people.
The three front-runners are embarking on various strategies in a bid to attract the support of voters.
During stumping, Koike, who is a solid media performer, has been critical of the LDP’s Tokyo chapter and its members.
“It’s a typical theatrical election strategy,” said a member of Masuda’s campaigning team.
But Koike has nevertheless been able to attract media attention.
When campaigning kicked off last Thursday, Koike made a speech with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building in the background.
On the following day, she flew to Hachijojima Island to visit a geothermal power station, showing her interest in renewable energy and the small islands that are also part of Tokyo.
Feeling threatened by Koike’s moves, Masuda’s campaign team is highlighting his experience as Iwate governor to voters.
They believe Tokyo voters want someone with experience given that the past three governors have resigned before the end of their tenures.
With the backing of the LDP, Komeito and another minor party, executives of the ruling coalition are stumping with Masuda to boost support.
Meanwhile, Torigoe, who announced his intention to run a day before campaigning kicked off, has been able to attract voters’ attention with his popularity.
Although he is often criticized for being unable to offer any policy proposals due to his eleventh-hour nomination, Torigoe’s election says he will take time to draft policies after listening to voters.