Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike is set to elevate a senior female bureaucrat to vice governor, which would make her the first woman to assume the post in 22 years, sources said Friday.
The move comes amid speculation that Koike may run in the Oct. 22 Lower House election following Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s dissolution of the House of Representatives on Thursday. Earlier this week, Koike launched Kibo no To (Party of Hope) to challenge Abe’s ruling coalition, fueling speculation she will quit as governor and return to national politics.
The appointment of two new vice governors by the capital’s first female leader is likely to be submitted to the metropolitan assembly next Thursday, the final day of its ordinary session.
Koike will appoint Junko Inokuma, the female director-general of the Bureau of Accounting, and Akira Hasegawa, head of the governor’s Office for Policy Planning, with the two replacing three of four incumbents, reducing the number of vice governors to three, the sources said.
A metropolitan assembly source said the move likely signaled that Koike would remain in her post but left open the possibility she would seek national office.
Koike, a former member of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and a former member of the Diet, was elected governor last August.