Tokyo Gov. Koike to launch own national party, dealing blow to Abe's election plans

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-25 17:06:20|Editor: Zhou Xin
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TOKYO, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike on Monday announced her intention to launch her own national political party, according to local media reports.

Koike said in a press briefing on the matter that she will be the leader of a new political party at the national level and that the party will be called "Kibou No To," which means Party of Hope in English.

Koike's announcement comes on the heels of a number of high profile defections from both the ruling and opposition camps by party lawmakers to join a new party launched by her close ally, lower house independent lawmaker Masaru Wakasa.

"Mr. Wakasa, a former main opposition Democratic Party member, Mr. Goshi Hosono and others have been having various discussions up to now, but we have done a reset, and I will lead the party myself and be directly involved," Koike was quoted as saying.

Koike said she will simultaneously carry out her duties as both governor and party head and said she wants to be involved in national politics, in part, so she can carry out changes in the capital.

An "all-Japan" approach would be the foundation of the party's ethos, Koike said, with the focus on support for families raising children. She added that she plans to field candidates nationwide in the expected general election.

Koike made the surprise announcement before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe started his meeting with his party executives earlier Monday and officially announced his contentious plans to dissolve the lower house of parliament and call a snap election.

The Tokyo governor's news following Koike's Tomin First no Kai's (Tokyoites First party) sweeping victory in the Tokyo metropolitan assembly race in July, seeing off challenges from rival parties including the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which Abe is also the president of.

The Tokyo metropolitan assembly race is widely regarded as a barometer for the future direction of national politics and triggered rumors that Koike was eyeing a return to national politics after her landslide win, as has proved to be the case, political watchers noted.

The result of the metropolitan assembly race triggered the beginning of an exodus of lawmakers from the opposition Democratic Party, which has been a blow to its new leader Seiji Maehara, who is fighting to keep the party united and his lawmakers defecting.

But in further blow to Abe on Monday, a senior vice Cabinet Office minister in his government announced he would be leaving the ruling LDP.

Mineyuki Fukuda, 53, a third term lower house lawmaker, told a press briefing on the matter that he wants to form a new party with independent lower house member Masaru Wakasa.

"I will make a new political party with House of Representatives lawmaker Masaru Wakasa," Fukuda said, referring to the independent lawmaker who has joined forces with former Democratic Party members including Goshi Hosono and other defectors.

"I want to join the new party and work on raising up its human resources," Fukuda said, confirming his plan to run as a candidate for the envisioned new party in the expected general election.

Fukuda was first elected to the lower house in 2005. While being defeated in the 2014 general election in his Kanagawa Prefecture constituency, he did, however, managed to retain his seat on the LDP's proportional representation list.

Koike, meanwhile, served as a lower house member between 1993 to 2016 at which time she resigned to run in the gubernatorial election race which she won.

She previously held the defense minister portfolio but resigned in August 2007 after just 54 days in office.