Tokyo governor starts new party

Source:Reuters Published: 2017/9/27 23:03:40

Popular lawmaker rules herself out of expected election


Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike on Wednesday formally launched a new party promising conservative reform, stepping up her challenge to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and adding to uncertainty about the outlook for a general election widely expected next month.

But the popular former ruling party lawmaker, who is already upstaging Abe in the media and complicating forecasts, said she herself would not seek a seat in parliament's lower house now.

Abe said on Monday he would call the snap election to reset his mandate, betting that his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and junior coalition party can keep their majority in parliament's lower house, where they hold a two-thirds "super majority."

Abe will dissolve the lower house on Thursday for a vote expected on October 22.

At a news conference ­launching her "Party of Hope," Koike repeated promises to form a party without ties to vested interests in order to "­reset Japan."

"If at this time we don't reset Japan, we won't be able to sufficiently protect our international competitiveness and national security," said Koike, a former defense minister who quit the LDP earlier this year.

There had been speculation that Koike would choose to run in the election herself, but she said she would remain in her position as governor.

Koike's new party is staking out a policy space similar to that of the conservative LDP and the right wing of the main opposition Democratic Party, a mixture of conservatives and liberals.

But her calls for open government, a freeze on a planned sales tax hike from 2019, an end to nuclear power and a promise to promote diversity give it a more populist tinge.

The Nikkei business daily reported on Wednesday that Koike's party was in merger talks with the Democrats and she had met with Democratic Party leader Seiji Maehara on Tuesday for discussions, but Koike made no reference to the issue.

The Nikkei said prospects for a merger were uncertain, since Koike has suggested she was not keen and the move could trigger a split in the ­Democratic Party.



Posted in: ASIA-PACIFIC

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