A female member of Greens Japan has won a seat in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly! Marking a new era in Tokyo
7th July 2021
Co-Representative of Greens Japan
The 4th of July is an historic day for Greens Japan: Greens’ Steering Committee member Akiko Kando won a seat in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly. It is historic because it is the first seat won in the Tokyo Assembly by a Greens Japan member and because a victory in a single-seat district had been supposed impossible without close affiliations with big, established political parties.
Throughout the campaign, Kando advocated for the retraction of the Metropolitan Government’s road-building plan that would destroy the precious local environment. She also called for the cancellation of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as they are to be held in the middle of the Corona pandemic during the hottest season of the year. The result of her campaign was great. She beat the candidate officially endorsed by Liberal Democratic Party, the ruling party in the Diet (national legislature), by a large margin.
Kando has been supported by a network of various groups of citizens, such as her colleagues at a nursery school where she worked for 12 years, her followers she cultivated during the 16 years of her career as a city councilor in Koganei, young environmental activists she met more recently, and many others. All of them created a style of election campaign that is genuinely citizen-led. She succeeded in widening her base of supporters compared to the last election campaign four years ago. This time, more than half the incumbent Koganei City councilors supported her. She was also backed by the opposition parties, such as the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party, and the New Socialist Party of Japan, and a local-level political group, Seikatusha Network of Tokyo, in addition to Greens Japan. We thank them and salute the electorate of the Koganei district for choosing Kando. Their choice brought about a landmark victory in an effort to spur a local movement to affect change in Metropolitan politics.
Since the beginning of the campaign, Akiko Kando has repeated that the municipalism movement, rooted in local, citizen-led politics, can usher in a future that could change the whole of Tokyo. She was inspired by a series of transformative movements initiated at the municipal level that is taking place in Europe. Many progressive-minded mayors were elected even in big cities like Paris last year. Kando’s victory in Koganei, supported by its citizens who have nurtured citizen autonomy over the years, signals a hope for Japan.
We, Greens Japan, wish to celebrate Kando’s historic win together with friends and colleagues from all over the country and around the world. We are happy and feel responsible at the same time to fully support the first Green member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly in the coming years.
Speaking of this election in general, the voter turnout rate dropped by about 9 percentage points compared to the last time. It goes to show that the people are disappointed with politicians of both ruling and opposition parties, for their failure to meet their expectations amid pressing issues, such as the climate crisis, the pandemic, and policies surrounding the Olympic and Paralympic Games. We still have a long way to go in our journey to get politics back in citizens’ hands.
We will make a new step forward to change the current political reality and to spread the municipalism movement in many more municipalities in Japan, based on the experience of the challenge taken and victory won by Kando in Koganei in this election.