In an election held in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on Sunday, incumbent Mayor Masami Ishikawa, backed by Gov. Yuriko Koike, secured a fifth term to lead the district, defeating two newcomers, including one supported by the Liberal Democratic Party.
The election was widely seen as a forecast for prospects for the governor’s administration and she is expected to use the victory as a springboard for a Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election to be held this summer, a contest that will determine the breadth of support for her.
During the campaign, the 75-year-old Ishikawa emphasized his achievements during his 16 years in office including zero-waiting lists for nursery schools and after-school clubs for elementary school students, as well as exemption of medical costs for those under 18 years old.
Ishikawa beat the 41-year-old LDP-backed challenger, Makoto Yosano, a company employee and a nephew of former Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano, and independent Asao Igarashi, a 41-year-old former company employee and brother of Tatsuo Igarashi, the mayor of the city of Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture.
In the July 2 Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, the governor is considering fielding 30 to 40 members from a political academy she founded last year in an attempt to wrest control of the 127-member assembly, in cooperation with friendly forces, from the ruling LDP.
Tensions between the governor and LDP assembly members came into the open late last year as Tokyo grappled with the escalating costs of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games and environmental concerns over the planned relocation of Tsukiji fish market.
Koike, a former House of Representatives member from the LDP, ran in the gubernatorial election in July as an independent and defeated a candidate backed by the LDP and the Komeito party by a wide margin.
She has vowed to initiate drastic reform of the metropolitan government.