Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike recently launched a political school called "Kibo no Juku" with the aim of fostering people's engagement in politics. The Mainichi Shimbun answers some common questions readers may have about Koike's school and other similar groups established by the heads of local governments.
Question: Are there many political schools involving the heads of local governments?
Answer: In the past, former Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto opened a political school while he was in office. Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura and former Shiga Gov. Yukiko Kada were also among the heads of local governments that launched their own political study groups. These schools are sometimes aimed at educating potential candidates for local or national elections.
Q: Have any participants in those schools actually run in an election?
A: Hashimoto's school was launched to train candidates for the Osaka Ishin no Kai party, which he led at the time. Several "students" from the school ran in the 2012 House of Representatives election, some of whom were successful.
Q: Will Koike's school take the same path as Hashimoto's?
A: Some see similarities in the political maneuvering by Koike and Hashimoto. One of the reasons may be that both of them invited Keio University professor Shinichi Ueyama and other outside experts as advisers in their governments to work on administrative reforms.
However, the main objectives of their schools are different. Hashimoto's Ishin no Kai secured a majority in the Osaka Prefectural Assembly after an April 2011 election and, when he launched the school, the party was the largest faction in Osaka and Sakai municipal assemblies -- two of the largest cities in Osaka Prefecture. Ishin no Kai also proposed plans to be discussed in the Diet, such as the "Osaka metropolis plan," in which Osaka Prefecture and the city of Osaka would merge to form a metropolis, as well as a plan to divide Japan into Hokkaido and several states with greater autonomy than prefectures.
Koike's school, meanwhile, is not officially aiming to field candidates in elections. If she plans to turn her school into a new political party, Koike needs to work on establishing a solid footing, such as fielding the school's "graduates" in next summer's metropolitan assembly race. (Answers by Nanae Hayashida, Tokyo City News Department)