Koike's Party of Hope can give Japanese PM a bloody nose

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike speaks during an interview with AFP.

The prime minister had been expected to face a grilling over the cronyism scandals during a session of parliament from Thursday and opposition party officials saw the move as a ploy to avoid hard questions. At a press conference Wednesday, however, Koike said, "I will fight [the lower house election] as the governor of Tokyo", in an attempt to suppress such speculation. Talking of the need to "reset Japanese politics", she announced her intention to lead the national party as she launched it herself. Koike has previously served under the conservative Abe as defence minister, and her new outfit is "conservative at its core".

Around 18 percent of voters nationally said they planned to support Koike's party, compared with 29 percent for the LDP, according to a recent survey by the Mainichi newspaper. Party leader Seiji Maehara said the Democrats would do whatever it takes to bring down the Abe government.

Koike was asked the same question on a TV program on Monday.

"The party may gain some seats in the Tokyo area, but a risk for her is that voters may feel betrayed as they voted for her as Tokyo governor and now she is working in national politics", Kensuke Takayasu, professor of political science at Seikei University, told AFP. Kishi had been imprisoned by the American authorities on war crimes charges, but was released and became prime minister in 1957, as did his brother in the 1960s and 1970s. It now holds a two-thirds "super" majority.

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But Koike stole his limelight by launching her party with the criticism that the pace of much-needed reforms under Abe's government is too slow.

However, most observers, including Nagy, expect Abe to come through largely unscathed, "I don't think we'll see a situation like the election in Britain, where Prime Minister Theresa May lost her majority". "As long as favoritism exists, national strategic special zones will be meaningless", Koike said. She also shares with Abe a strong commitment to tackling the threat posed by North Korea.

China's foreign minister on Thursday said that ties with Japan should not take two steps back for every step forward, after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a rare appearance at an anniversary event for the normalization of diplomatic relations. At a lecture Wednesday, Koizumi said: "Her behavior sometimes can't be understood by ordinary people".

A total of 465 seats are up for grabs in the lower-house election on October 22, of which 289 are to be elected from single-seat districts and 176 by proportional representation.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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