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Yuriko Koike won’t head new party planned by Diet ally Masaru Wakasa

Kyodo

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike will not lead the new national party expected to be formed by one of her Diet allies ahead of the snap election expected next month, the lawmaker said Saturday.

Lower House lawmaker Masaru Wakasa said on a TV program that “it has been almost decided” that a Diet member will take the post of party chief.

Wakasa is forming a new opposition party expected to include Goshi Hosono, a former environment minister who recently left the Democratic Party, the main opposition force in the Diet.

The new party will aim to field more than 50 candidates after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls a widely expected general election next week.

“I have not asked Koike” to head the party, Wakasa added.

Still, some observers still expect Koike to be asked to take a senior post in the party to capitalize on her popularity.

Koike’s Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites First) engineered a sweeping victory in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election in July, pummeling Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party.

Wakasa and Hosono appear likely to use the word “hope” in the party’s name, people familiar with the matter said, apparently seeking to associate it with the School of Hope, Koike’s new political academy.

Wakasa said the party would provide voters with an alternative to the LDP and DP, and suggested that it will not, in principle, seek to field unified candidates with other opposition parties to grab single-seat constituencies.