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Koike and Torigoe in tight race, Masuda a step behind in Tokyo governor election

Former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike and journalist Shuntaro Torigoe are neck and neck in the race to become Tokyo's next governor, with former internal affairs minister Hiroya Masuda trailing just behind, analysis of a July 16-17 Mainichi Shimbun telephone poll and Mainichi news coverage has shown.

However, with at least 40 percent of respondents saying they had yet to decide who they would ultimately vote for, the situation could change at any time.

Koike, 64, who is the only woman among the top three candidates, appears to have a wide support base among women in their 50s and younger, and among both men and women in their 40s. Meanwhile, 76-year-old Torigoe is highly popular among women in their 60s as well as men and women in their 70s and older. Masuda, 64, has a certain level of support among Tokyoites in their 30s.

This is the first time in 17 years that the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is split in the Tokyo gubernatorial race. Koike, a member of the LDP, is running in the election without the backing of the party, while the LDP Tokyo chapter is officially supporting Masuda.

A little under 40 percent of survey respondents who support the LDP said they were planning to put their weight behind Koike, who has made no secret of her clashes with the LDP's Tokyo chapter. She also appears to be garnering approval from those who support the Initiatives from Osaka party as well as independents.

Torigoe, who has the backing of the Democratic Party (DP), the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and the People's Life Party and & Taro Yamamoto and Friends, has nearly 60-percent support from Tokyoites who favor the two former parties. Masuda, meanwhile, who is backed by the LDP, Komeito, and the Party for Japanese Kokoro, has the approval of close to 60 percent of Komeito supporters, but his approval ratings among LDP supporters stands at 30 percent -- evidence of the effects that a dual-LDP-candidate race can have.

Asked what their top priority was in choosing a candidate, the most common answer among survey respondents was policy, at 37 percent. That was followed by administrative experience, at 13.5 percent; lack of money scandals, at 13.4 percent; character, at 13.1 percent; and political experience, at 9.9 percent.

Just under 60 percent of those who placed top priority on administrative experience said they supported Masuda, a former internal affairs minister and former governor of Iwate Prefecture. A little under 50 percent of those who said character was the deciding factor in choosing a governor were in support of Torigoe, and about 60 percent of those who said political experience was most important expressed support of former House of Representatives lawmaker Koike.

Among those who said that policy was the deciding factor in selecting a governor, about 30 percent said they supported Koike, while approximately 20 percent said they supported Torigoe, and less than 20 percent said they were in support of Masuda. Around 30 percent said they were unsure.

A record-setting 21 candidates are running in the Tokyo gubernatorial election.

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