Koike’s challenge to Japan’s political status quo

Author: Corey Wallace, Free University of Berlin

Japan’s self-styled governance reformers have attempted to knit themselves into Japan’s political fabric in different ways over the last 15 years. But up to now, the various waves of reformers have failed to translate the popularity of their agenda into national political influence.

‘Koizumi’s children’, named after former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, were a group of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) politicians who came to prominence in the 2005 elections, hand-picked as candidates by Koizumi for their support of his reform agenda. The centre-left opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) then became the vehicle in 2009 for ‘Ozawa’s children’ to take the stage. Former mayor Toru Hashimoto used a takeover of local government in Osaka to build support for a new national party that also attracted former parliamentarians from both the Koizumi and Ozawa cohorts.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike makes a speech for candidates from her Tomin First no Kai party ahead of a metropolitan assembly election in Tokyo, Japan, 28 May 2017 (Photo: REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon).

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Yuriko Koike’s historic ascent to the Tokyo governorship is the latest such challenge to the political status quo.

Koike quickly vowed to address the escalating costs of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which had quadrupled from original estimates to US$25 billion. Koike also suspended the relocation …continue reading