Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike on Friday defended her recently launched party's policy of denying foreign residents in Japan the right to vote or run in local elections, stating that such measures are necessary to protect the national interest.

Controversy over the policy was stirred when her nascent party, Kibo no To (Party of Hope), required new members switching from the disintegrating opposition Democratic Party to confirm their agreement to the policy of denying non-Japanese local suffrage before being allowed to join the new party.

In an official list of campaign pledges unveiled Friday the party skirted the issue, but Koike didn't rule out the later incorporation of denying suffrage to foreign nationals.