Tokyo assembly split after vote amid fears over Covid pandemic

An election in the Japanese capital has left the Tokyo city assembly shattered amid concerns over health risks during the Olympics, which will open in three weeks, as coronavirus cases continue to rise .

In Sunday’s vote for 127 seats, Gov. Yuriko Koike’s first Tomin party was elected with 31 seats, down from 46. The Liberal Democrats, the nationally ruling party, won 33 seats, down from 25.

Opinion polls show that around 60% of those polled want the games to be canceled or postponed again. Behind the fears lies the delay in the roll-out of vaccination, with only about 10 percent of the population fully vaccinated.

The only major party clearly arguing for the cancellation of the Olympics was the Communist Party, which won a seat for a total of 19. Opposition Democrats, who raised questions about hosting the Olympics, moved on. from eight to 15. Together they now form another solid block at 34.

The Liberal Democrats promise “safe and secure games”. Koike and his group demanded that there be no spectators in the stands. The organizing committee said a decision on attendance restrictions was still under consideration.

Eligible voters total 9.8 million people in the megalopolis with a population of nearly 14 million.

The Olympic Games, which open on July 23, bring together 15,000 athletes and more than 50,000 officials, including sponsors and dignitaries, as well as 70,000 volunteers.

Some medical experts have warned it could turn into a COVID-19 super-spread event, warning that new cases in Tokyo, now totaling several hundred per day, could reach thousands.

Members and officials of the Olympic team are more likely than the Japanese public to have been fully immunized.

Koike became Tokyo’s first female governor in 2016, and was re-elected for another four-year term in a landslide in 2020.

She took a two-week hiatus for exhaustion and wasn’t seen in public until Friday, when she should have gone out regularly for her party.

She is a proponent of gender equality, comparing the situation in Japan to “an iron plate” rather than “a glass ceiling”.

Analysts say Koike, previously a parliamentary lawmaker, could consider a return to national politics.

Parliamentary elections are expected later this year, and the Tokyo results are closely watched as a harbinger of voters’ sentiments. The success of the Olympics in keeping COVID-19 deaths under control will be key to influencing support.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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