• Bloomberg, Kyodo


Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike will take a few more days away from public duties on the advice of a doctor, the city’s government said Sunday, extending an absence that comes about three weeks before the capital hosts the Olympics.

Koike had been expected to return to work Monday, after taking a week to recuperate from severe fatigue. She was taken to a hospital last Tuesday but will remain hospitalized for a few more days, the metropolitan government said.

Koike, 68, has led Tokyo’s response throughout the coronavirus crisis, often appearing to adopt a more cautious stance than Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government. She has retained relatively strong public backing, with 57% of respondents to a poll of Tokyo residents published by the Asahi newspaper on Monday saying they supported her.

Koike said on June 7 she had received her first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

The political veteran has stepped out of the spotlight at a critical time, just before the metropolitan assembly election in Tokyo on July 4. Koike’s term as governor has three more years, but she must work closely with the victorious parties in the assembly.

Official campaigning for the election has begun, but it remains uncertain whether Koike can come out to support Tomin First no Kai, or the Tokyoites First party, a regional party she founded and which she currently serves as special adviser.

A Kyodo News poll showed Sunday that the Liberal Democratic Party is likely to become the largest force in the Tokyo assembly, taking over the position from Tomin First, which currently holds the largest number of seats.

Controversy continues to rage over the Olympics, which are set to open July 23, even as the pace of infections in the city begins to rise. About 58% of respondents to a Mainichi newspaper survey published on Monday said they opposed the games.

About 55% of respondents to the Asahi survey said they approved of Koike’s handling of the virus, compared with 35% who said they didn’t. Asked about her handling of the Olympics, voters were evenly divided, with 42% saying they approved and the same percentage disapproving.

Koike, a former TV news anchor, defense and environment minister, left her Diet seat in her successful bid to become the first female governor of Tokyo in 2016.

Koike has been occupied lately with work related to responding to the coronavirus pandemic and hosting the Olympics and Paralympics.

Last week, she attended an online meeting of representatives of five organizing bodies including the International Olympic Committee to set spectator caps. She also subsequently participated in a meeting related to COVID-19 vaccines.

The governor has often worked at her office on weekends to discuss coronavirus measures with senior metropolitan government officials.

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