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A Conversation with the Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike

October 29, 2021

As part of the Dean's Forum, Johns Hopkins SAIS hosted a conversation with Yuriko Koike, governor of Tokyo. Kent E. Calder, Special Advisor to the Dean and director of the Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies at SAIS, moderated the conversation with Koike, the first woman to serve as Tokyo's governor. Koike started the discussion by recounting her experiences serving as Japan's environment minister, defense minister, and in Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's cabinet. Then she transitioned to the state of Tokyo's post-COVID-19 recovery and declared, "cities are better at global issues than nations." She added that Tokyo hosting the Olympics in the summer of 2021 became a symbol of resilience and courage, birthing the post-COVID world. Koike also acknowledged the global threat from COVID-19 and climate change, but emphasized that the world cannot return to its pre-COVID state.

As the conversation continued, Koike discussed her dream of a sustainable Tokyo by explaining, "this sustainable society would have a fusion of nature with urban facilities, where the old and the new would culturally blend into something new but recognizable." She also outlined green initiatives Tokyo plans to have in place by 2030, such as new hydrogen-powered residential facilities, a reduction of carbon production by 50 percent, and a 50 percent shift to renewable energy. Koike noted that the "new Tokyo" will have green finance, digitize finance and infrastructure, and attract asset managers. She concluded the event by advocating for increased telework opportunities, a more productive citizenry, and better crisis management and expressing hope that she will be able to welcome the world back to Tokyo soon.