Tokyo has elected its first female governor to take charge of the city amid troubled 2020 Olympic Games preparations after a foul-mouthed campaign of misogyny and mudslinging. Yuriko Koike claimed victory after exit polls and early vote counts pointed to a strong lead for the former defence and environment minister. “I will lead Tokyo politics in an unprecedented manner, a Tokyo you have never seen,” she said in a voice slightly hoarse after two weeks of campaigning. The election, which was contested by a record field of 21 candidates in a city home to 13.6 million people, was called after the previous governor, Yoichi Masuzoe, resigned over a financial scandal involving the use of public funds to pay for lavish hotels and spa trips.
Koike largely played down her achievement of becoming the first woman to govern the Japanese capital – and only the seventh woman ever to serve as a prefectural governor – but she is no stranger to male-dominated environments, having served in the lower house of parliament where less than 10% of MPs are women.
Last week Shintaro Ishihara, 83, another former Tokyo governor not renowned for his tact, called her “a caked-up old woman well past her prime”.
“He has embarrassed us again in public,” said Yoshiko Matsuya, a self-employed clothing worker who voted for Koike. “I think he is probably senile.” Koike said in her victory speech she would pursue policies that would mean that “both women and men can shine in Tokyo”.