In the campaign leading up to the October 22nd House of Representatives election, all eyes are on Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, leader of the newly-formed Party of Hope, as much as on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has dissolved Parliament.
In an interview with Sankei Shimbun newspaper on October 2, Koike said she “will not” be running in the parliamentary election. “I have said so from the beginning,” she declared.
Instead, the Party of Hope is aiming for a change of government, fielding more than 233 candidates to hopefully get a majority in the house.
The Japanese political landscape is being polarized into three groups: the ruling conservatives, consisting of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP) and Komeito; the “Reformation conservatives” camp centered around Koike; and left wingers from the now defunct Democratic Party (DP).
So why is Koike not contesting a seat in the polls? “The pace of Japanese politics is excessively slow. There is no point being one of the Diet members. Tokyo will be an example [of the reforms], and lead the way nationwide,” she explained. “This way is preferable as it is easier for the people of Japan to understand.”
After the landslide win by her regional Tokyo Citizens First Party in the July Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, Koike plans to focus on Tokyo Prefecture. She stated: “We have created the structure. Now we have to deliver results.”
Scheduled to attend an international climate change conference in Paris on October 22, Koike proclaimed, “I will leave Narita Airport for Paris on the 21st. I promise.”
The party leader emphasized that a change of government should happen in the upcoming election, reacting to the “unbelievable” comments by former House representative and current Party of Hope member Masaru Wakasa that a change of government would be “in not this, but the next election.”
The big number of candidates the Party of Hope is fielding is a step toward that, Koike said. “It is crucial that voters are given a choice. I would hope to be able to field 233 candidates, in constituencies and proportional representation combined.”
Koike is critical of Prime Minister Abe’s dissolution of the House. “The situation with North Korea is extremely perilous. To call a dissolution at this time, it is an ‘Abe-first dissolution.’”
She added: “That is why I think it is the perfect opportunity to consider reform. Conservatism which stands in the way of true reform is not conservatism.”
Nevertheless, Koike does not deny the possibility of a coalition, where the Party of Hope gains a majority in the lower house, while Abe’s LDP holds the majority in the upper house. “I’ll decide upon seeing the result,” she said.
Discussing differences between herself and the Prime Minster, Koike said that, “He is a third-generation politician, and I’m more of a venture businesswoman.” She refused to be drawn into discussing who would be designated Prime Minister at the special post-election Diet session, saying, “There are numerous candidates, including party members.”
Koike has outlined that former DP members who wish to join the Party of Hope should support the security laws and constitutional amendment.
“Of course we need to have the same values on security policies and the Constitution,” she said.
Adding, “Once the LDP joined with the Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ) in order to retake the power. ‘Policy differences are forbidden fruit’,- this should be the retort for that,” and criticizing the LDP for its SDPJ coalition government.
Koike has expressed a desire for the Party of Hope to get rid of liberal-leaning politicians. In response, DP left-winger and former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano formed the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ).
Koike has criticized the DP split, saying, “[CDPJ] say they are protecting the Constitution, but that is a strange motivation, it is incomprehensible.”
Fielding candidates against the CDPJ “will be decided soon,” Koike said. For now, what is clear, she said, is that, “in actuality, the election lines have become easier to understand.”
(Click here to read the original article in Japanese.)