• Kyodo


A new party envisioned by a lawmaker close to popular Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike plans to field several dozen candidates in an upcoming general election expected for Oct. 22, the lawmaker said Wednesday.

Independent lawmaker Masaru Wakasa said on a radio program that he will choose at least 50 candidates from the political academy he founded.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who doubles as chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, has reportedly decided to dissolve the Lower House later this month before the new party and opposition forces are fully prepared for the election.

He is also, it is believed, looking to take advantage of rebounding approval ratings for his Cabinet following a series of scandals, including favoritism allegations leveled at the prime minister himself.

Abe is expected to hold a news conference next Monday to announce that he will dissolve the House of Representatives on Sept. 28, when the Lower House will be convened for an extraordinary session, according to a government source.

In accordance with the schedule, official campaigning is likely to start on Oct. 10 for the election on Oct. 22.

Wakasa has agreed to launch the new party jointly with Goshi Hosono, the former environment minister who left the main opposition Democratic Party, by Sept. 28.

Sources close to them have said the party is expected to field candidates in all 25 Tokyo constituencies. The plan follows the landslide victory of Koike’s Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites First) in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly race in July.

Regarding the person who will lead the new party, Wakasa said, “Although I have a certain person in mind, I will not announce that now.” He also expressed hope for Koike’s return to national politics.

“For the sake of Japan, it would be a very wise choice (for Koike) to return to national politics and become a female prime minister,” he said.

Koike, who became the capital’s first female governor last August, held the key posts of defense minister and environment minister while she was an LDP lawmaker.

Meanwhile, senior lawmakers of four opposition parties — the Democratic Party, Japanese Communist Party, Liberal Party and Social Democratic Party — agreed to seek a way to field joint candidates for the upcoming general election, according to a JCP lawmaker.

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