News in Pictures / Koike Wins 56-Candidate Tokyo Gubernatorial Race; Poster Board Misuse, Jeering at Street Speeches Cause Disruption

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People look at a poster board for the Tokyo gubernatorial election with many unrelated posters containing animal illustrations in Katsushika Ward, Tokyo, on June 27.
The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Tokyo metropolitan government building in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, is seen on June 20.

Many unusual elements were seen during the campaign period for Sunday’s Tokyo gubernatorial election. With a record 56 candidates in the running, incumbent Gov. Yuriko Koike, who has led the capital for two four-year terms, retained her position.

The NHK Party political organization and affiliated groups fielded 24 candidates and transferred rights to display posters to third parties for a fee. The boards for the election saw many posters unrelated to any candidate.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People take photos of a candidate’s street speech on June 20.

Koike, 71, pursued a strategy of prioritizing her official duties, and she emphasized her track record as governor during her street speeches. She reached out to younger generations on social media through such efforts as posting videos featuring an AI-generated newscaster character named AI Yuriko that looked just like her.

The Japan News
AI Yuriko, an AI-generated newscaster, is seen in this screen grab from a video posted on Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike’s official YouTube account.

The capital has a mountain of issues to address, including a chronically low birth rate and the need to increase preparedness for a possible large earthquake directly underneath it. “I will speed up reforms,” said Koike.

Looking back on the election campaign, Koike said she had been threatened and jeered at during street speeches. “It was an election like I’d never experienced before,” Koike said. “Should elections benefit those who bring disruption? We need to discuss this from various perspectives.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike arrives at the Tokyo metropolitan government building on Monday, a day after securing her third term as governor.

Shinji Ishimaru, 41, former mayor of the city of Akitakata, Hiroshima Prefecture, was the runner-up. When Koike’s projected victory was announced Sunday night, Ishimaru said, “I can say with confidence that I’ve done everything I could.” He spent much of his time raising his profile through street speeches, introducing himself and explaining his political stance. These activities were circulated via social media among young people and voters with no preferred political party.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Shinji Ishimaru poses with his supporters on Sunday night after coming in second in the Tokyo gubernatorial election.

Former House of Councillors member Renho, 56, ended up in third place. “I wasn’t competitive enough. I’m very sorry,” Renho said.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Renho responds to a TV interview after the results of the Tokyo gubernatorial election were announced on Sunday. Renho finished third in the race.