The Tokyo gathering split after the vote amid fears of the Olympics


An election in Japan’s capital has shattered the Tokyo city assembly amid concerns over health risks during the Olympics, which opens in three weeks, as coronavirus cases continue to surge.

In Sunday’s election for 127 seats, Governor Yuriko Koike’s Tomin First party was elected to 31 seats, down from 46. The Liberal Democrats, the ruling party at the national level, won 33 seats up from 25.

Public opinion polls show that around 60% of respondents want to cancel or postpone the games again. Behind the fears lies the delayed introduction of vaccinations, with only around 10% of the population being fully vaccinated.

The only major party that clearly spoke out in favor of canceling the Olympics was the Communist Party, which won one seat out of 19 total. The opposition Democrats, who asked questions about how the Olympics ran, jumped from eight to 15 seats to another solid block of 34.

The Liberal Democrats promise “safe and secure games”. Koike and her group demanded not to have any spectators in the stands. The organizing committee announced that a decision on the restrictions on participation is still being examined.

A total of 9.8 million people are eligible to vote in the megacity with just under 14 million inhabitants.

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

Some medical experts have warned that it could turn into a COVID-19 super-spreader event and warn that new cases in Tokyo, now numbering several hundred every day, could skyrocket into thousands.

It is more likely than the Japanese public that members and officials of the Olympic team are fully vaccinated.

Koike became Tokyo’s first female governor in 2016 and was re-elected for another four-year term in a landslide in 2020. She was on a two-week hiatus due to exhaustion and wasn’t seen in public until Friday when she would routinely have been out for her party.

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

Analysts say Koike, previously a parliamentary lawmaker, may be considering a return to national politics.

General elections are expected later this year, and the Tokyo results are being closely watched as a precursor to the mood of the electorate. How successful the Olympics can be in keeping COVID-19 deaths under control will be critical to swaying aid.