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Backing her pledges to improve transparency, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike announced plans Friday to improve access to public documents.

At a regular news conference at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building in Shinjuku Ward, Koike said an ordinance would be revised to allow residents to browse public records at metro headquarters free of charge. The city now charges ¥10 per page just to browse public records, which are only available on paper.

“Such a move will reduce the (financial) burden on citizens and lead to greater transparency in the administration,” Koike said.

When the revision takes effect, the price for black and white as well as color copies will be reduced from ¥20 to ¥10, and from ¥100 to ¥20, respectively, she said.

Koike also plans to provide free electronic access to public records upon request.

Koike has repeatedly bashed former governors and their administrators for withholding information on how it uses public funds.

When she took office in August, Koike promised to ensure transparency in City Hall as part of sweeping reforms aimed at regaining public trust in the scandal-ridden metro government.

Her predecessor Yoichi Masuzoe stepped down over an expenses scandal involving his use of public funds for private expenses, mostly hotel stays and wining and dining. Masuzoe’s expenditures, however, were blacked out in documents presented to the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly.

Koike’s progressive and widespread reform vows gave her a landslide victory in last year’s gubernatorial election and might help secure her standing during the assembly’s election this summer.

Koike said she hopes to field candidates from a school for political aspirants she set up in October — a move widely believed to be an effort to form a new political party.

Koike is weighing whether to expand her political group Tomin First no kai, formed by assembly members who backed her campaign, or launch a new party.

The governor did not specify how many candidates she plans to back from her school, but said the members have “a clear vision that would help further reform and modernize the city’s government.”

“It’s not about the numbers,” she said. “But given that there are still 2,000 people interested in attending the (school’s) seminars, it may help increase the turnout rate.”

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