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Koike aims to help form natl party

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike speaks in an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun on Tuesday.

The Yomiuri ShimbunTokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike expressed her readiness to help establish a new political party on the national stage in an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun on Tuesday.

Regarding a new political association called “Nippon First no Kai” (Japan First group), which was set up by a House of Representatives lawmaker close to her, Koike said: “It’s important to show [voters] alternatives. [Public opinion] is going through changes because there is no alternative.”

When asked about the defeats of both the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the largest opposition Democratic Party in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election last month, the governor said: “Current trends demonstrate existing political parties cannot properly reflect public opinion. The speed at which information is disseminated has become overwhelmingly fast as social media is being utilized in an unprecedented manner.

“A [political] organization requires time to achieve consensus on moving forward,” she said.

Koike will entrust the upcoming political party’s policies to Nippon First, she said.

The governor positively evaluated the moves by the DP and nonaffiliated lawmakers to seek coordination with Nippon First. “There are lawmakers who wonder if it’s really OK to let the current situation drag on,” she said.

On the question of whether a so-called “third-pole” party — which is distinct from existing parties such as the LDP and the DP — should aim to grab power, Koike only said the realization of a third-pole party to grab power is “not so simple. The Japanese people’s sense of balance does not make it possible.”

Koike is scheduled to give a lecture at the first meeting of Nippon First’s political school on Sept. 16.

Hosono approaches

Koike’s move to set up a new party comes at a time when the DP is shaken by the defection of Goshi Hosono, the party’s former deputy president.

Nippon First is seen as a strategic move by Koike in preparation for setting up a political party in national politics. She will be in charge of its political school, called “Kisho Juku,” in an effort to train candidates for the next lower house election.

This method — selecting candidates through a political school — is a replay of the way she dealt with the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election in July.

At least five national-level lawmakers are required to join a party in order for it to be established nationally. Hosono submitted a letter of resignation from the DP on Tuesday to Yoshihiko Noda, the party’s secretary general.

Hosono told reporters of his willingness to pursue coordination with Nippon First. Referring to Masaru Wakasa, the head of Nippon First, Hosono said: “I’m paying close attention [to him]. I’d like to talk [to him] if such an opportunity arises.”

The five-member threshold will be met if Hosono is joined by Wakasa and three other nonaffiliated lawmakers — lower house member Akihisa Nagashima and House of Councillors members Yoshimi Watanabe and Shigefumi Matsuzawa — who all supported regional political party Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites First group), then led by Koike, in the Tokyo poll. Speech

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