Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said on Oct. 23 that more than 4,000 people have applied to join a new political school she is set to launch later this month.
The school, called "Kibo no Juku," is scheduled to open on Oct. 30. "I take it seriously that people who want to study and experience politics have applied from across the country. I believe that efforts to increase the number of those engaged in politics will lead to improving the quality of this country's politics," Koike said.
Also the same day, Masaru Wakasa of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) scored a victory in the House of Representatives by-election in the Tokyo No. 10 constituency, which was vacated when Koike ran in the Tokyo gubernatorial race in July. Wakasa backed Koike in the race in defiance of LDP leadership that fielded another candidate.
Seven LDP members of the Toshima and Nerima ward assemblies also backed Koike in the governor's race against party policy, but the latest election results and the large number of applicants to Koike's school may likely press the party's Tokyo chapter to lighten the punishments on them.
The LDP Tokyo chapter earlier advised the seven assembly members to leave the party or they would be expelled if they didn't file defection reports by Oct. 30, the day Koike's new school is set to inaugurate.
However, if the seven assembly members defected or were ousted from the party and were to run in the next assembly elections with the backing of Gov. Koike, it could effectively give a boost to Koike's planned new party.
"There's no way we can turn the incumbent governor against us," said one Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly member of the LDP.