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Kibo no To (Party of Hope)

The Party of Hope struggled to garner public support as it never become clear what Koike, who did not run in the election, is trying to achieve in national politics. She was also criticized for her emphasis on catchy slogans rather than policy specifics.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said she would launch and lead a new national political party. It will be called Kibounoto, which means party of hope. The party will push for greater female empowerment, including moves to legalize the right to use separate surnames after marriage. Other priorities include eliminating nuclear power, preventing secondhand smoke and revising the Constitution.

The center-left Democratic Party decided 28 September 2017 to disband its Lower House caucus and join Kibo no To (Party of Hope), a new conservative party led by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike. The sudden demise of the nations largest opposition force could turn the Oct. 22 Lower House election into a two-way race between conservative forces: Prime Minister Shinzo Abes Liberal Democratic Party and Kibo no To. Upper House DP members will retain their party membership and organizations.

Jin Matsubara, a former minister in charge of the abduction issue, submitted his offer to leave the Democratic Party on 25 September 2017. He said he would join the new political party of Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike. Matsubara likened Koike's new party to an active volcano, saying it has dynamism. He said this is what is needed to change the current state of politics. Under the government of the Democratic Party, Matsubara served as National Public Safety Commission chairman, abduction issue minister and consumer affairs minister.

After the Democratic Party lost power in 2012, Matsubara headed the party's Tokyo branch. He resigned from the post after the party's setback in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly elections in July 2017. Abe's Liberal Democratic Party was trounced by her regional Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites First) party in the July Tokyo assembly election. Matsubara was the 5th lawmaker to leave the Democratic Party since September first, when it elected former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara as its new leader.

Koike, who was elected Tokyo governor only a year ago, combines a natural understanding of the media with a knack for sniffing out good political fights and opportunities for advancement, analysts say. A trailblazer who became the first woman in many jobs, such as defense minister and governor of the capital, Koike played on her natural appeal and reformist zeal to win over both voters and some in the old-school political world.

Fluent in English and Arabic, Koike projects an image as an internationalist rarely seen in navel-gazing Japanese politics. Born in 1952 in Ashiya city in western Japan, Koike attended the region's Kwansai Gakuin University before graduating from the Cairo University of Egypt in 1976. After a stint as a translator, she worked as a television broadcaster, interviewing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and Palestinian Liberation Organisation chair Yasser Arafat.

Harnessing her now nationwide fame, she first won an upper house seat in 1992 before switching to the more-powerful lower house in the following year. Koike frequently changed political affiliations but always stayed close to powerful bosses, such as former prime ministers Morihiro Hosokawa and Junichiro Koizumi as well as Ichiro Ozawa, a shrewd strategist who for decades had wielded significant political influence. She joined the LDP in 2002, and became environment minister in 2003 in the popular Koizumi administration.

From 2005, she began promoting "cool biz", pressing Japanese businessmen to take off ties and jackets during summer in a drive to conserve energy for air-conditioning. During Abe's first short stint as a prime minister a decade ago, Koike was tapped as his special advisor on national defence before being appointed the first woman defence minister in 2007.

Koike noted that before being "abruptly" appointed to the Defense Minister post, she was responsible in the Prime Minister's Office for not only defense policy but all aspects of Japan's national security, including foreign affairs and even issues like China's protection of intellectual property rights. Koike said that she hoped to bring this comprehensive approach to her current position, while relying on the defense specialists within her ministry for guidance on security matters.

LDP Defense Division Director and Diet member Katsuyuki Kawai said in 2007 that the U.S. should be reassured by Koike's appointment given her instinctive pro-American style. Nevertheless, Kawai expressed concern over Koike's grasp of the issues and her ability to control the conservative, male-dominated Self-Defense Forces (SDF). MOFA Security Policy Senior Coordinator Keiichiro Ono said that his MOD counterparts were clearly worried that MOD's voice on policy will be weakened now that it is being led by a "lightweight" Minister. Observers were split over how long Koike will serve as Defense Minister.

Koike was unlikely to make the sort of verbal gaffes that led to the sacking of her predecessor. She was an articulate public speaker, and has a good track record of staying on message even when she disagreed personally with the policy she is defending. But she had only lukewarm support inside the LDP and failed in a bid to become party chief. In 2016, she defied LDP leaders and won a landslide victory against the party's candidate in the Tokyo gubernatorial election, portraying the long-governing party as being controlled by secretive, wasteful bosses. She went on to batter the LDP again in the Tokyo assembly election in July, but she has carefully maintained cordial ties with Abe, and vice versa, as they had to work together on putting on a successful Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Koike already rallied several disillusioned lawmakers from other weak opposition parties to her cause but commentators say she may lack sufficient time to mount a serious national challenge to Abe. PM Abe was expected to win handily given a large opinion poll lead to a contest between the countrys two most powerful politicians.

The Asahi Shimbun conducted a nationwide telephone survey 26-27 September 2017. In terms of who they would vote for right now under the proportional representation system in a Lower House election, 32 percent of respondents cited the LDP, followed by 13 percent for Kibo no To, 8 percent for the Democratic Party, 6 percent for Komeito, 5 percent for the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), 3 percent for Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party), 2 percent for the Social Democratic Party and 1 percent for the Liberal Party.

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Page last modified: 06-07-2021 16:52:17 ZULU