Tokyo Governor Koike Says Her Policies to Have Lasting Impact

(Bloomberg) -- Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said her policies would have a lasting impact on the Japanese capital, while declining to reveal whether she’ll seek reelection next month for a third term in one of the country’s highest-profile jobs.

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“I did my best effort to make Tokyo great again,” she said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Monday, referring to her eight years in office. “The legacy continues,” she added, saying her policies will remain effective in the future.

The first woman to serve in the capital’s top post, Koike is known for repeatedly breaking glass ceilings in Japanese politics. She now could face a rare challenge from another woman, after opposition lawmaker Renho Saito threw her hat into the ring for the July 7 election to run the city of some 14 million people.

A victory for Koike would likely mean fewer headaches for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s troubled ruling Liberal Democratic Party, of which she was previously a member. Renho, who generally goes by her given name, hails from the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and has vowed to reset the capital’s politics and oppose the LDP.

Read more: Female Opposition Lawmaker Set to Challenge Tokyo Governor

Koike was first elected governor in 2016 and sailed to a second term in office in 2020, guiding the capital through the pandemic, during which Tokyo hosted the Summer Olympics. She’s been less successful with efforts to bolster the city’s status as a global financial center and counter its low fertility rate.

Among other policies, the Tokyo government has offered a new subsidy program aimed at raising the birth rate and cut high school tuition fees as part of nationwide efforts to tackle demographic woes.

“The population is at the heart of any nation,” Koike said. “A nation that cannot take care of its children has no future.”

Asked if she had concerns about the weak yen, Koike said she welcomed the surge in inbound tourism, adding the Tokyo metropolitan government would continue to assist its residents in coping with persistent inflation fueled by the cheap currency and high energy costs.

--With assistance from Isabel Reynolds.

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