Tokyo to vote for governor three weeks before Olympics

Tokyo (AFP) –


Tokyo will hold an election to pick a governor on July 5, 2020, less than three weeks before the Japanese capital hosts the Olympic Games, the city said Wednesday.

Incumbent Yuriko Koike, 67, has not officially announced her candidacy but is widely expected to run.

Her term is set to expire on July 30 and she must hold an election within 30 days of that date.

Mayoral elections are usually held on a Sunday, making July 5 the furthest possible date from the Opening Ceremony on July 24.

Koike, a media-savvy veteran, won the governorship in a landslide vote in 2016, becoming the first female leader of the world's most populous city.

She sent shockwaves through Japanese politics in 2017 by forming her own "Party of Hope" to challenge long-standing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a national election.

However, her support imploded after a promising start, partly because she did not stand herself in the election, confusing voters as to whether she would give up the Tokyo governorship to become PM.

More recently, Koike has hit the headlines with her vigorous opposition to the decision of the International Olympic Committee to move the marathon to the northern city of Sapporo to escape the Tokyo summer heat.

She was forced to grudgingly accept the IOC's decision but made it clear she was doing so because she had no choice.

Official campaigning for the election will begin on June 18, according to the city's election board.

The Tokyo games run from July 24 to August 9.