TOKYO – Tokyo’s governor and her political rival, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, agreed Monday to cooperate on handling the coronavirus outbreak to safely hold the Olympics next year.
Gov. Yuriko Koike met with Abe a day after she won her second term representing the Japanese capital in an overwhelming election victory buoyed by public support for her handling of the pandemic despite a recent rise in infections in the capital region.
Abe congratulated Koike for her victory and said: “Gov. Koike and I will have to cooperate more closely than ever.”
Koike, who showed up in her work jacket with a Tokyo government logo on the back, said her most pressing task is to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus and asked for Abe's support.
“I will firmly overcome the pandemic with the help of the power of the government, and lead to the Olympics and Paralympics as a proof of our victory,” Koike said.
The first woman to head Tokyo prefecture, Koike, 67, is viewed as a potential candidate to succeed Abe when his term ends in September 2021. A ultra-conservative from Abe's ruling party, Koike has also served key ministerial posts in environment and defense.
For now, she denies speculation of her return to national politics and says she’s focused on protecting the lives of the 14 million people in Tokyo, a megacity with a $1 trillion economy.
After her meeting with Abe, Koike renewed her campaign pledge to set up a Tokyo version of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by learning from its example and cooperating with the Japanese health ministry and other experts.