The Yomiuri Shimbun Kibo no To (Party of Hope) might need to review its election tactics in the upcoming House of Representatives election because its leader, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, clearly said she will not be running in the poll.
Some members of the new party voiced disappointment, while another who joined after leaving the Democratic Party said, “Our momentum will be weakened.”
Kibo members initially planned for Koike to be their prime ministerial candidate in a Diet vote after the election, but this scenario has become difficult to realize.
The public’s widespread lack of understanding as to why Koike would resign as Tokyo governor slightly more than a year after taking office seems to be behind her decision not to run. Also, the disarray among the opposition parties, which makes it difficult to foresee a victory for them, seems to be another factor in her decision.
“I said I would not run [in the lower house election] from the beginning,” Koike said in an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun on Monday. “I’m calmly watching the news get excited about all this.”
One Kibo member said recently, “Koike running in the election will give us a nationwide boost, and we will be able to leap to a position where taking the reins of government is within range.”
Koike had not completely ruled out the possibility of being a candidate, which kept up the hopes of others in the party.
However, criticism that Kibo is too high-handed grew when it used the issues of constitutional amendment and national security as a barometer for excluding the DP’s liberal members when that party merges with Kibo. This also raised the possibility of many of the opposition parties failing to unify.
Koike on Monday reiterated to reporters her aim to field more than 233 candidates — the exact number required for a majority in the lower house. However, it seems the selection of Kibo’s candidates has not gone smoothly.
In an urgent nationwide public opinion survey The Yomiuri Shimbun conducted on Sept. 28 and 29, 62 percent said Koike should concentrate on her job as Tokyo governor.
Criticism that Koike is abandoning her duty as Tokyo governor could intensify if she becomes a Diet member. It appears this was behind Koike’s decision to give up on running in the lower house election.
Tomin First no Kai, a regional party led by Koike, holds 55 of 127 seats in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly. The party is the largest force there but does not hold a majority, meaning it must cooperate with Komeito, which holds 23 seats.
However, Komeito has become increasingly distrustful of Koike because she has been increasingly critical of the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.