Yukiko Koike has won the Tokyo Gubernatorial election over the weekend. She served as Environment Minister under much loved PM Junichiro Koizumi and was credited with “cool biz” in the workplace to reduce electricity consumption.
Hillary Clinton may talk about breaking glass ceilings but she is merely chipping a crystal champagne flute compared to Koike smashing the windows of the presidential limo.
Tokyo governor is a big job that hasn’t been managed well by predecessor Masuzoe who got caught up in petty expense claims for private affairs and ridiculous accounts for his public trips abroad.
I don’t believe Koike is just a “give the girls a go” candidate. It has been about the incompetence of former governors and rivals in this election who were too old, out of touch or too narrowly focused such as a former Olympic volleyball player.
Childcare and daycare shortages are chronic in Tokyo and naturally mothers are protesting. The government is so desperate it’s funding almost 90% of the construction cost of daycare infrastructure. But the problem has been with matriculation of daycare staff. As ever in Japan the Ministry of Education is the bottleneck. The pass rates are a mere 17% to qualify for a daycarer. The bottleneck? Being able to play piano. If carers can’t play piano to a degree they can’t pass. So as much as the private sector would open schools given the funding grants, there is no incentive to open if the staff can’t be hired.
Koike wants to fight for better rights for women in Japan. To that end my experience has been that even top of the class Tokyo University graduates are often given menial tasks at work because decades of rusted on workplace practice is that women will find a husband within the company, marry then quit to become mothers. So why task them with careers. It’s madness but a mindset. Companies even had internal dating services to encourage dipping the pen in the company’s ink. Such behaviour in the West might draw sexual harassment suits and firing. To think in Australia even the word “guys” is deemed inappropriate workplace behaviour.
Best of luck Ms. Koike. Mr. Koizumi was one of the most switched on PMs in Japan for decades so hopefully you carry his legacy. As a divorcee with international education she comes qualified with real life experience and hopefully fixes the mess of the Tokyo Olympics, especially security. I think the risk of terrorist attacks in Tokyo are much higher than many realize.