Yuriko Koike won Tokyo’s gubernatorial election in 2016 to become the city’s first female governor. She was re-elected in 2020 and is currently serving her second term.
In 2018, her third year of office, she hosted the Tokyo Forum for Clean City and Clear Sky, which focused on the common challenges facing large cities—waste management, sustainable resource management and air pollution. There, she and representatives of major cities around the world shared knowledge and information about their best practices, and confirmed that they will maintain and strengthen their global partnerships. At the same time, she also held the first C40 East, Southeast Asia and Oceania Regional Meeting as a C40 vice chair.
In May 2019, she hosted the U20 Mayors Summit. As an output of the summit, the views of the major cities of the world were prepared as a communiqué, which was delivered to the G20 by Governor Koike, representing the U20. At the U20 Mayors Summit, she also declared that Tokyo will become a “Zero Emission Tokyo” by 2050 to contribute to the world’s net zero carbon emissions.
Moreover, in January 2021, with a strong awareness of how crucial the actions taken over the next decade will be to achieve Zero Emission Tokyo, she announced that by 2030 Tokyo will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent over year 2000 levels. This was followed by a kickoff meeting in February to roll out a global movement for climate action under the slogan “Time to Act,” with the aim to accelerate effective actions for decarbonization, and together with the participating mayors of major cities and experts, a joint message was sent out to the world.
Governor Koike is also bringing changes to fields other than the environment. This includes empowering women, improving the parenting environment by resolving the issue of waitlists for daycare and introducing original programs to make daycare costs free, preventing secondhand smoke, and implementing administrative and fiscal reform.
Calling for a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, she is currently launching and implementing numerous projects for the realization of a sustainable society by addressing the climate crisis in addition to working for recovery of the economy, society, and people’s spirits exhausted by the pandemic.
A graduate of Cairo University, Egypt, after her return to Japan she worked as an Arabic interpreter and language instructor before becoming Japan’s first female economic news anchor for a television program reporting on the world’s economic issues.
She was elected to Japan’s House of Councillors in 1992, and to the House of Representatives in 1993, and has held key positions including the Minister of the Environment and Minister of Defense. She has always taken an active stance in addressing her concern for the environment. One leading example was her introduction of the Cool Biz campaign when she was the Minister of the Environment, which encouraged office workers to dress more casually during the summer to ensure comfort under higher room temperature settings.