Tokyo voters give governor second term

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike says the top priority for the city will be dealing with the coronavirus.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike says the top priority for the city will be dealing with the coronavirus.

Millions of voters in Tokyo have handed incumbent Governor Yuriko Koike a second term according to early results, apparently trusting her to tackle the Japanese capital's coronavirus outbreak and deliver the delayed Olympic Games next year.

The first results and exit polls on Sunday showed Koike, a former defence minister who became the first woman to lead the Japanese capital four years ago, with about 60 per cent of the vote - far ahead of any of the other 21 candidates.

"I'm very pleased to receive strong support from Tokyo residents and at the same time I feel great responsibility for a very important second term," Koike said after exit poll results were announced.

The 67-year-old said the top priority for Tokyo would be dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

The vote was accompanied by strict social distancing measures amid a spike in new coronavirus infections - topping 100 cases for the fourth day in a row on Sunday.

Koike added that Tokyo would establish an organisation equivalent to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prepare for another wave of infections.

About 11.4 million voters were eligible to cast their ballots in the gubernatorial race.

Candidates were focusing on how to respond to the pandemic and to prepare for possible second and third waves of the virus, as well as managing Tokyo's economy amid fallout from the outbreak.

Some candidates criticised Koike for blaming nightlife districts for the recent increases instead of imposing stricter measures or ramping up testing.

Australian Associated Press