Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said Thursday her new upstart Kibo no To (Party of Hope) is in it to win it in next month’s national snap election, striving to wrench power from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling party.
“We’re not throwing our hats into the ring just to end up becoming an opposition party,” Koike told a packed news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo. “This election is about winning power.”
At the same time, Koike emphasized that she will for now dedicate herself to her job as the capital’s governor, rebuffing widely circulating rumors that she intends to return to the national stage by resigning and running for a Diet seat in the Oct. 22 election.
“I will place my focus on Tokyo so I can prepare fully for the 2020 Olympics and steer the capital, which I’m sure will go a long way toward benefiting Japan as a whole,” she said.
Also on Thursday, the struggling Democratic Party, the largest opposition force in the Diet, approved a plan proposed by its new head, Seiji Maehara, to effectively merge with Koike’s new party ahead of the poll.
Specifically, the DP said it will not endorse candidates for the race, forcing DP members who seek re-election to secure backing from Kibo no To.
Koike pointedly refused to call the arrangement a “merger.” She said whether incoming DP members will be able to run on a Kibo no To ticket will hinge on their stances on key issues, including the controversial security legislation that significantly expanded the operational scope of the Self-Defense Forces involved in overseas operations.
“I don’t think DP lawmakers who were opposed to the law back in the day would want to join us in the first place,” Koike said. Kibo no To is a self-described conservative party determined to bolster Japan’s security.
“But some of them may be adopting a more realistic position on the legislation now that the situation in North Korea has escalated to the extent it has. … So we will see who will apply to join us first,” she said.
In a nationwide opinion poll conducted by the liberal Mainichi Shimbun earlier this week, 18 percent of those surveyed answered they will cast their ballots for Kibo no To under the proportional representation system, versus 29 percent who said they will vote for the LDP.
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