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Tokyo Gov. Koike confident about launching new party ahead of election: interview

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike sits with the Mainichi Shimbun for an interview on Dec. 29, 2016, at the Mainichi's Tokyo Head Office in Chiyoda Ward. (Mainichi)

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike showed confidence about forming a new political party ahead of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election in July during a recent interview with the Mainichi Shimbun, saying that her party "in a sense" has already been launched.

Koike stressed during the Mainichi interview on Dec. 29, 2016, that whether she will expand her current political group, the "Tomin First no kai (Tokyoites first group)" or start a new party is "merely a choice."

The group was launched mainly by Toshima Ward Assembly members who supported Koike in the Tokyo gubernatorial election last year even though the Liberal Democratic Party, to which Koike belongs, did not endorse her in the election. Her group registered itself as a political organization with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's Election Administration Commission in September and operates a political school called "Kibo no Juku" that Koike launched.

Koike said in the interview that she aims to orchestrate forces promoting reforms in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, using her political group as a foothold. She also touched on the possibility of changing the group's name to encourage participation in her group by members of other parties and suggested she might officially form a new political party that meets legal requirements depending on the political climate. Koike then said she would decide which path she would take in March, after assembly deliberations on the metropolitan government budget for fiscal 2017.

Koike hopes to field at least 30, or 40 if possible, candidates from her school and other areas for the assembly election and is preparing the first batch of candidates to be announced by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, with regard to the costs of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, Koike said she would work on collecting old, unused mobile phones and use other materials found in the so-called "urban mining" projects to produce gold, silver and bronze for the medals.

On the troubled relocation of Tokyo's wholesale market from Tsukiji in Chuo Ward to Toyosu in Koto Ward, Koike told the Mainichi, "I'll give an overall decision (on the relocation plan) around summer, but it could get delayed or moved up depending on the results of the final assessment of groundwater at the Toyosu site that will be announced in mid-January." (Interview by Takao Yamada, Special Senior Writer)

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