• Kyodo

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Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said Monday her newly founded political party will field candidates in a majority of seats in the Oct. 22 Lower House election, aiming to take power from the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“We will take them on this time, of course,” Koike said in an interview with Kyodo News.

Masaru Wakasa, a founding member of Koike’s Kibo no To (party of hope), had expressed pessimism on Sunday that the party will win enough votes to seize power.

Kibo no To, which Koike says she will lead from outside the Diet, was established just last week, giving it little time to get a team together before official campaigning in the House of Representatives election begins on Oct. 10.

But Koike said Monday her party will aim to put up candidates in at least 233 seats — just over half of the House of Representatives’ 465 seats — in order to challenge the ruling coalition of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and smaller partner, Komeito.

She said the party will announce its first tranche of candidates as soon as Tuesday.

Koike also said Kibo no To will be a force for reform of the Constitution, which has remained unaltered since it came into force in 1947.

“We can’t run away from debate on the Constitution in the first place … rather, we want to actively participate in it,” she said.

Abe’s LDP also wants to revise the document, something that would require the support of two-thirds of the Diet before gaining a majority in a national referendum.

Public opinion on revision has long hinged on the future of the Constitution’s Article 9, by which Japan forever renounces war and the maintenance of “war potential.”

Abe suggested in May that the existing clauses of Article 9 be retained and a specific mention of the country’s Self-Defense Forces added in order to clarify their constitutional status.

Koike said Monday that Article 9 should be included in the debate over a potential amendment, but criticized Abe’s May statement as “unhealthy.”

“(Abe) came out with it suddenly. He’s become fixated on constitutional revision itself,” she said.

Japanese voters will fill out two ballots on Oct. 22: one for their electoral district and one for proportional representation. Reforms aimed at making the lower house more representative have seen it shrink by 10 seats from 475 to 465, a postwar low.

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