LDP To Discreetly Support Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike’s Reelection Bid; Members Hope ‘Capital Showdown’ Victory Will Boost Party Strength

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Liberal Democratic Party headquarters building in Tokyo

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito want to regain their party strength by unofficially supporting incumbent Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike in the Tokyo gubernatorial election.

The parties, facing headwinds due to the political funds scandal in which LDP factions have been embroiled, intend to gain a foothold through the “capital showdown,”

“The LDP’s Tokyo chapter has decided to back Gov. Koike. We wish to provide the required support as a party,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who serves as LDP president, told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office on Thursday.

Although the LDP has avoided outwardly endorsing Koike out of consideration for her, as she does not want to be associated with any political party, it is willing in practice to provide systematic support for her, mainly through Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly members.

Komeito plans to support her as it would an official candidate, a senior party official said.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan fully supports Renho, a former CDPJ member of the House of Councillors, underlining the race’s status as a de facto showdown between the ruling and opposition parties.

As Tokyo has a large number of voters with no party affiliation, this election is expected to be a good barometer of recent public opinion.

Both the LDP and Komeito are very concerned that if they lose to Renho, there will be a stronger sense that the government could change in the next House of Representatives election.

As the CDPJ is working with the Japanese Communist Party and other parties in support of Renho, the Tokyo gubernatorial election may bring the two parties closer together for the national election.

Some within the LDP are concerned that if Koike were to win a landslide victory, Koike’s influence would grow again and she might adopt a confrontational stance toward the LDP.

As Koike led the Kibo no To (Party of Hope) against the LDP in the 2017 lower house election, one LDP veteran said candidly, “Even if she wins, we don’t want her to win by a large margin.”

By contrast, Komeito, which has consistently built a good relationship with Koike in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, is looking forward to working with Koike in next year’s Tokyo assembly election.

At a party meeting held on Thursday, Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi expressed his determination to “provide solid support and achieve results.” He also demonstrated his closeness to Koike, saying she had called him to express her gratitude for his support for the election.