Jiji PressTOKYO (Jiji Press) — Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, leader of Kibo no To (Party of Hope), on Sunday left open the possibility of her party forming a coalition with the Liberal Democratic Party after the Oct. 22 general election, while apparently keeping in mind a scenario of ousting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Asked about the possibility of Kibo forming a grand coalition with the LDP, during a debate among heads of eight political parties at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, Koike said, “Basically, our major goal is to change the current political situation, where Abe alone is strong.”
Meanwhile, Abe said that he will aim to stay on if the ruling LDP and its ally Komeito secure a combined majority in the 465-seat House of Representatives in the election, even if the LDP sees the number of its lower house seats decrease substantially.
Koike also questioned Abe’s proposal to revise the Constitution to stipulate a rationale for the existence of the Self-Defense Forces in Article 9.
The official campaign period for the general election is set to begin on Tuesday.
In a television debate program of NHK earlier on Sunday, the heads of the ruling and opposition parties crossed swords over a planned consumption tax hike.
Abe and Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of Komeito, stressed the need to raise the tax rate from 8 percent to 10 percent in October 2019 as planned, while changing the planned use of revenue resulting from the hike, in order to create a social security system that focuses on all generations in place of the current system with heavy emphasis on elderly people.
The heads of Kibo, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and Nippon Ishin no Kai called for a freeze on the tax rate increase, claiming that the hike in the tax burden could dampen personal consumption. The leaders of the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party showed opposition to the tax hike.