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LDP's Nikai to back Tokyo Gov. Koike in summer 2020 election despite past clashes

Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai speaks to reporters in this Feb. 20, 2019 file photo. (Mainichi/Taro Fujii)
In this Feb. 26, 2019 file photo, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike answers assembly members' questions at the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly in the capital's Shinjuku Ward. (Mainichi/Kentaro Mori)

TOKYO -- Ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai has announced that he would back Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike in the Metropolitan Tokyo gubernatorial election in summer 2020 should she decide to run again.

"I'll give her all my support and cooperation, as is natural. You just have to look at her record in office to understand why," Nikai told a March 4 news conference.

Though a former LDP House of Representatives lawmaker and Cabinet minister, Koike clashed head-on with the ruling party in the July 2016 gubernatorial election, triumphing over the LDP-backed candidate. Her local Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites First) party then swept to victory in the metropolitan assembly elections the following year, again sending many LDP candidates to defeat.

Nikai's quick announcement of support for Koike was met with some grumbling, with a senior figure in the LDP's metro Tokyo chapter commenting, "We can't just sit back and say, 'Oh, so that how it's going to be.'"

Nikai also said at the March 4 press conference, "If Ms. Koike runs (in the next gubernatorial election), is there an LDP candidate out there who could beat her? If there is, then they'd better get started right now."

(Japanese original by Nozomu Takeuchi, Political News Department)

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