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Political ideals of Koike, ex-member of 5 national political parties, unclear

Kibo no To (Party of Hope) leader and Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike speaks during a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, on Sept. 28, 2017. (Mainichi)

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike stressed in a Sept. 27 news conference on the launch of her new political party Kibo no To (Party of Hope) that she would provide "politics free of constraints" and "reset Japan."

Koike, who has belonged to five national political parties to date, has been called a "migratory bird" of the political world. It is difficult to see her political ideals, and it is hard to say she has provided a sufficient explanation as to why she is delving into national politics in her current position as governor of Tokyo.

A mission statement released on Sept. 27 said Kibo no To would aim to be a "tolerant, reform-oriented conservative party encompassing the division in society that is becoming more serious." In her lectures to date, Koike herself has stated that a conservative position stems from reform.

Political analyst Atsuo Ito, however, comments that her political ideals are concealed from view. On her phrase "politics free of constraints," he adds, "These are the words that most easily distinguish oneself from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), so they have been used without fail when establishing new parties up until now."

What kind of policies will Kibo no To pursue? Koike has mentioned the elimination of nuclear power plants as one policy. But in the previous House of Representatives election in 2014, she responded in a Mainichi Shimbun survey of candidates that nuclear power plants were "necessary." In campaigning for the Tokyo gubernatorial election in July last year, she added that ensuring the safety of nuclear power plants was a priority.

The presence of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is thought to be a large factor in Koike's decision to incorporate the elimination of nuclear power plants as a policy. However, many of the legislators that have joined or will join her new party take the view that nuclear power plants are necessary. Her stance also differs from that of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, which is the mainstay of support for the Democratic Party which is merging with Kibo no To.

Furthermore, Koike has traditionally supported revision of Japan's Constitution, but she has not stated her position on revision of war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.

Journalist Tetsuo Suzuki commented, "The driving force for Koike's actions is revenge on the LDP and national politicians who drove her into a do-nothing position, and becoming governor of Tokyo was merely one way of getting that. She should state what kind of country she wants to create in a manifesto, and fulfill her accountability."

Koike, a former television presenter, entered the political world in 1992, the year before Morihiro Hosokawa became prime minister, by running as a candidate in the House of Councillors election on the ticket of the Japan New Party that Hosokawa founded. After switching to the House of Representatives, she became an aide of Ichiro Ozawa in the New Frontier Party and Liberal Party. She then joined the New Conservative Party before becoming a member of the LDP led by Koizumi in 2002.

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