A 47-year-old woman who has lived in Belgium for almost a decade has been elected mayor of a Tokyo district more than 9,000 kilometres away, after rising to popularity mostly through a social media campaign during the COVID-19 outbreak, Independent reported.
Satoko Kishimoto has been living in Belgium's Leuven city with her husband and two children. She is now set to become the mayor of Tokyo's Suginami district after winning polls with a narrow margin of just 200 votes.
In an interview with a local Flemish radio station on Monday, her husband, Olivier Hoedeman said, "During the Covid-19 crisis, when everything happened online, Satoko participated a lot in online public debates in Japan from Leuven."
"Satoko is very interested in politics and through her work for the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam, she knows a lot about it too," he added.
"She became very popular with the progressive movement in Japan and was asked to run for mayor in Suginami."
Mr Hoedeman also informed that his wife had lived in Japan for the first 25 years of her life and then moved to the Netherlands and subsequently to Leuven where she lives now.
"But Satoko has always kept the connection with Japan, so when the invitation came to run for mayor, she was immediately very enthusiastic," he said, adding that they never expected her to win.
"The election result came as a huge surprise. Satoko defeated the conservative mayor in office. Apparently, her political message appealed to many citizens. Satoko wants less privatisation and more citizen participation," he added.
According to The Guardian, Kishimoto, who edited a book on alternatives to water privatisation, won by only 200 votes after overcoming her opponents' accusations of her lengthy Belgian residence.