TOKYO: Incumbent Yuriko Koike is leading in the final stages of the Tokyo governor race, Jiji Press has learned.
Ahead of Sunday's voting, Koike, 67, is taking leads over Kenji Utsunomiya, former president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, Taro Yamamoto, leader of small political party Reiwa Shinsengumi, Taisuke Ono, former vice governor of Kumamoto Prefecture, and other candidates.
She is broadening her support among voters loyal to the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, which form the ruling coalition in national politics, on top of swing voters.
Failing to field their own candidates in the capital's gubernatorial election, the two ruling parties have let their members vote for anyone they favor.
But Toshihiro Nikai, the LDP kingpin serving as the party's secretary-general, has thrown his "full support" behind Koike, and Komeito chief Natsuo Yamaguchi has clarified his stance of "effectively" supporting her.
Extensive media exposure to Koike's performance in coping with the coronavirus crisis is providing a tailwind for her campaign.
To catch the powerful incumbent, Utsunomiya, 73, is giving street speeches jointly with the leaders of three opposition parties -- the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party -- backing him. But he has so far been unable to solidify support from all major opposition parties due to the lack of full backing of the Democratic Party for the People.
Yamamoto, a 45-year-old actor-turned-politician, is seeking support from not only Reiwa Shinsengumi advocates but other voter groups by giving street speeches with, among others, former martial arts start Genki Sudo, now a House of Councilors lawmaker planning to quit the CDPJ.
Yamamoto is fighting an uphill battle, because he declared his candidacy only three days before the official campaign period began and because he faces difficulty turning supporters of the opposition camp away from Utsunomiya, in particular.
Backed by Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party), Ono, 46, has been trying to make as many Tokyo voters as possible know his name in various ways including holding a talk show online with Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura, deputy leader of the party. But the former vice governor of the prefecture that is far southwest of Tokyo still remains low-key.
There are 18 other contenders in the race, including Takashi Tachibana, 52, head of NHK kara Kokumin wo Mamoru To, a single-issue party critical of public broadcaster NHK, or Japan Broadcasting Corp.