OSAKA – Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura has withdrawn his support for Kibo no To in a blow to Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, who is also the fledgling party’s chief. This setback comes less than two weeks after Omura agreed to cooperate with Koike and Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui, who serves as Nippon Ishin no Kai’s co-leader.
“I want to send out messages of support to individual candidates with whom I have a relationship. I’m not thinking about backing a specific party at this stage,” Omura told reporters at his regular news conference on Wednesday.
Late last month, Omura and Matsui met Koike in Osaka and declared they would cooperate during the campaign. Unlike Matsui and Koike, Omura does not lead a national political party but won re-election in 2015 with over 1.6 million votes with a voter turnout rate of just under 35 percent. He had the support of all major ruling and most opposition parties.
The three leaders agreed on broad decentralization goals and to help each other’s campaigns.
With that in mind, Kibo no To announced on Oct. 5 that Omura had been tapped to serve as party adviser. The Aichi governor has supported Matsui and Nippon Ishin but insists on remaining independent.
Omura denied the report, saying that it was one of many things he’d discussed with Koike but that he didn’t think he’d be offered the job. Kibo no To withdrew the announcement two days later, with Koike calling it a “simple mistake.”
Kibo no To is fielding 12 single-seat candidates in Aichi Prefecture.
The Aichi governor also bowed out of an appearance in Tokyo’s Ginza district on Oct. 7 with Koike and Matsui. Stepping in for him was Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura, who leads the small local political group Genzei Nippon that has 10 members in the Nagoya Municipal Assembly.
“The Ginza event was political party speeches, so I thought it was different (from what we agreed to last month),” Omura told reporters, adding that the three leaders had announced they would promote decentralization.
He did not add other specific reasons for his decision to not appear at campaign rallies on behalf of Kibo no To. But the party’s sudden decline in opinion polls along with Omura’s traditional preference to be an outside supporter of political parties may have been factors.
There has also been speculation in Osaka that Omura eventually wants to create his own national party that is Aichi-centric, along the lines of the Osaka-centric Nippon Ishin and Tokyo-centric Kibo no To, and therefore doesn’t wish to become formally committed to any established or newly formed party.