Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike seems to be gathering speed with her Party of Hope as the Dems have all but told their members to unite under her flag. She is openly stating she isn’t out for second place although hasn’t stated her intention to run herself. Remember that Koike is no amateur, having served as a national cabinet minister for defence and the environment under Koizumi. When she went for the leadership of the LDP in 2008 she spoke of the glass ceiling Hillary Clinto spoke of as more of an iron plate in Japan. Forget her gender, she is offering a “fresh” face. In contrast PM Abe is running a campaign where he is willingly throwing dead bodies of his own party so long as he can cling to a majority. Hardly a strategy of promise and one that all of the scandals within the LDP only give Koike perfect cannon fodder to use against the LDP – scandals ranging from graft, cronyism (two blatant incidents inviolving the PM), extramarital affairs and ministers screaming at subordinates. It is hard to work out whether Abe is channeling Malcolm Turnbull or Theresa May…one thing is that taking the voting public for mugs isn’t a good strategy.
You can almost smell the LDP smoldering on the teppanyaki hot plate Abe lit. However it seems that everyone is increasingly looking at the chef – Governor Koike. She deserves to make it. Not because she is a woman but because she actually looks to provide real leadership and a viable alternative to decades of establishment rule. Sadly Japan’s opposition parties have mostly been in opposition so they lack experience. United behind a leader like Koike and the electorate might well give her a mandate. PM Abe must really be feeling the heat and there is no worse campaign to run than that of defending the indefensible against someone that the press is giving constant airtime to. He is fighting a defensive game not to lose. She is fighting an aggressive game to win. Who would you place your bets on?
Japanese politics hasn’t been this interesting in ages.