Internet InfoMedia tokyo governor yuriko koike is re elected in race with 56 candidates
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A ridiculous number of candidates contended to be governor of Tokyo and its surrounding prefecture. Many were not even trying to win.

When voters in Tokyo cast their ballot for governor of the world’s largest city on Sunday, they were spoiled for choice.

Fifty-six candidates contended for the office, a record. One who styled himself “the Joker” proposed legalizing marijuana and said polygamy could address the nation’s declining birthrate. Another was a pro wrestler who hid his face on camera and vowed to use artificial intelligence to complete governmental tasks. There was a 96-year-old inventor who said he would deploy gas-fueled cars that do not emit carbon, and a 31-year-old entrepreneur who took off her shirt during a campaign video and promised “fun things.”

It might look like democracy run amok. But in fact, the race was profoundly status quo, and the incumbent, Yuriko Koike, as expected, won a third term.

Ms. Koike’s victory provided a much-needed shot in the arm for the governing Liberal Democratic Party, which had backed her in the race. Approval ratings have been falling for the party, and the Tokyo governor’s election was viewed in part as a referendum on the national government’s popularity.

The proliferation of candidates could reflect fatigue with politics as usual, but many of the hopefuls were also unserious attention seekers, creating a farcical, circuslike atmosphere and putting real change further out of reach.

“I wonder if this is democracy in action, or whether it’s like an ‘up yours’ to democracy,” said Emma Dalton, a senior lecturer in Japanese Studies at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. Multiple candidates have criticized the incumbent, Ms. Koike, “in the most vulgar way,” said Ms. Dalton, speaking before the election. “Because they know she’s going to win.”

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