After incumbent Yuriko Koike cruised to victory in the Tokyo gubernatorial election on July 5, the mainstream media concluded that hers was a passive campaign. Thanks to Koike’s frequent emergency news conferences related to the COVID-19 crisis in the weeks leading up to the election, she didn’t need to do much. The press events not only provided her with visibility, but showed her performing her duties proactively. The one development that might have capsized this plan — an unflattering biography of Koike published just as the campaign was gearing up — turned out to be a nonstarter because the mainstream press, at least, rarely mentioned it, which means Koike, despite saying she was “prepared to be a punching bag,” was never directly confronted with some of the issues brought up by the book’s author, Taeko Ishii.

Asked her opinion of the results during a July 10 TBS radio interview, Ishii said she had expected Koike to win but, unlike the mainstream media, didn’t find the victory to be “overwhelming.” Maybe it was in terms of numbers, but not in terms of passion.

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