Friday, October 6, 2017

Tracking Koike's Ambition, 4

Tracking Koike's ambition, Day 4, 4 October 2017

People are already looking beyond the election and the recriminations are beginning to surface. Today was another day spent by Koike denying intention to stand as a candidate, doubling down on her determination to remain as governor of Tokyo. Politics as played by politicians, is a game of numbers. And while the numbers to win a majority and take government for Koike have been doubtful from the start, it seems less likely by today. Koike is right, in terms of her ambition, to stay where she is for now.

Koike and Maehara
The smooth transition of numbers and financial resources as perhaps imagined by old Dems leader Maehara hasn't happened and in fact, by some estimates, has ended up thwarting any opposition hoped of defeating the LDP. There are questions still being raised over the handling and distribution of old Dem Party funding.

Meanwhile, media attention has turned to twitter...a superficial sidetrack but one that is perhaps inevitable where it seems, the contest has been all but decided. 

Much was made of the phenomenal rise in follower numbers on the new Constitutional Dems account. It climbed very quickly past 100,000 in just a few days while Koike's party account continued to languish, barely making it to 3,000. Not to be overlooked though is Koike's personal account @ecoyuri, which has almost half a million followers. 

Has Koike done the right thing if her ambition is to do damage to the Abe-led LDP? If we were to accept the idea that her plan was to win, win big and become prime minister in this short amount of time, then, obviously not. Events have not panned out in a way that fits that level of ambition. If, however, we offer the alternate proposal that this was always going to be a two-act drama, played out post-2020 Olympics, then perhaps Koike has taken the first necessary, and perhaps untidy, steps in orchestrating the transition. Interesting, the three recent Tokyo Governors--Koike, Masuzoe and Ishibashi--have straddled both the national and gubernatorial stages, switching between Parliament and City Hall as their political whims demanded. 

Koike succeeded last year largely on the back of convincing voters she had a successful track record as minister, notably introducing the 'Cool Biz' phenomenon, which ended years of wearing suits in summer, making it OK to takes off your suit coat and roll-up your sleeves, literally. As Environment Minister at the time, a major objective was to reduce use of aircon and the like, thus 'helping the environment'. In her tenure as Governor thusfar, she had either dithered or deliberated (depending on your point of view) and come up with a compromise solution to the complex issue of the transfer of Tsukiji fish markets to Toyosu. It took up nearly all of her first year in office. 

To skip back to the national arena now, after such a short time in City Hall would not augur well for people's trust in politicians (which is not that high) and only feed their cynicism (conversely, rather high). 

More sustained policy action will bolster her chances, next time.