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Koike's new party seeks cooperation with opposition force led by Osaka governor

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, left, and Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui (Mainichi)

The new political party launched by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) led by Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui are discussing a possible collaboration in the next House of Representatives election to avoid having candidates from each party clashing in the same constituencies.

Koike's "Kibo no To" (Party of Hope) and Nippon Ishin share many policy goals such as cutting the number of Diet members and their salaries as well as decentralization of authority and administrative reform. Policy advisers to both parties also overlap. The two groups are set to start full-scale talks on the cooperation plan, with a possibility of mutually backing each party's candidates in the election after forming a policy accord.

In addition, the two parties are eyeing working together with Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura -- a possible coalition of the heads of Japan's three major metropolitan areas.

The Kibo no To party plans to field candidates in the Tokyo metropolitan area, including constituencies in the capital, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures. Nippon Ishin, meanwhile, has its electoral base in Osaka Prefecture. The two parties, therefore, are looking to arrange their candidates in such a way that they will not clash in the same electoral districts.

Matsui commented on Koike's party on Sept. 26, saying that the newly formed group "is promoting almost the same things that we have been saying for six years," and that he welcomed the launch of a new group with the same ambitions headed by the Tokyo governor, indicating that he is open to the idea of cooperating with Koike's party. Koike has also emphasized that she and Matsui have similar views.

Ahead of the launch of her party, Koike told reporters during a news conference on Sept. 26, "I feel a grave responsibility. Our hope is finally coming true and this (new party) is the platform for it."

The Kibo no To party held a news conference on the morning of Sept. 27 following its official launch and unveiled its platform, which stated that the group will aim to become a "tolerant, conservative reform party." It has also decided to include the reduction of the number of Diet members in its campaign pledge. The party platform will also include the promotion of information disclosure, breaking away from constrained politics, "wise spending" of taxpayers' money, expansion of innovation led by the private sector and the realization of a society in which citizens can lead diverse lives.

Lower house legislator Masaru Wakasa, who has joined Koike's party, told reporters that the group is considering announcing the first batch of candidates to field in the next general election by the end of this week.

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