Tokyo votes in local elections as Abe’s popularity plummets

Tokyo votes in local elections as Abe’s popularity plummets

Tokyo, the world’s most populous metropolis, holds local elections today—in part a referendum on embattled Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Governor

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Tokyo, the world’s most populous metropolis, holds local elections today—in part a referendum on embattled Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Governor Yuriko Koike is seeking a majority in the city assembly for her Tokyoites First Party against the local branch of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

The local LDP’s biggest headache is the national party’s gaffe-prone officials; on Tuesday the defence minister apologised after claiming the apolitical military supported the LDP in today’s election. Abe himself is embroiled in a scandal, accused of abusing his office to help a close friend open a school. The PM’s approval rating has tumbled by double-digits to as low as 36%.

Where Abe is falling, Ms Koike is soaring; Tokyo’s incumbent governor has a 60% approval rating. Once an LDP minister, she has governed the nation’s capital as a reforming populist, criticising her old party and cutting spending on the 2020 Olympics. Her party—leading in opinion surveys—pledges to crack down on misuse of public funds and penalise public smoking.

A victory in today’s vote would bolster Koike’s national standing and lower that of Shinzo Abe, weakening his position ahead of the LDP’s September 2018 leadership election.