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Growing number of DP legislators poised to shun entry into Koike's new party

Democratic Party leader Seiji Maehara bows deeply to party executives during a general meeting of the party's lower and upper house caucuses at the party headquarters in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Sept. 28, 2017. (Mainichi)

A growing number of legislators with the largest opposition Democratic Party (DP) and prospective candidates for the party in the upcoming general election are poised to shun entry into the newly formed Kibo no To (Party of Hope) led by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike.

DP legislators and candidates in the House of Representatives election agreed to leader Seiji Maehara's proposal to hold talks with Kibo no To over a merger between the two parties, on the premise that the entire DP would join the new party. However, after holding talks with Maehara on Sept. 29, Koike said she had no intention of taking on all DP members. This sparked a move of resistance from some DP legislators.

Former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, former DP President Katsuya Okada and Deputy President Yukio Edano are considering running in the Oct. 22 lower house election as independents.

Some members are seeking to remain with the DP, while liberals in the party are considering launching a new party.

DP legislators and candidates in the lower house race agreed at a general meeting on Sept. 28 that DP lower house candidates would leave the party and ask Kibo to officially endorse them in the election, that Maehara would negotiate with the new party and that the DP would not field any candidates and instead extend all-out support to Kibo.

At the meeting, Maehara said he would run in the general election as an independent.

A senior member of the DP emphasized that its legislators and lower house candidates had merely agreed that Maehara would negotiate with Kibo no To.

A DP member of the House of Councillors said, "Lower house candidates were overly optimistic, thinking they all could join Kibo no To."

An increasing number of DP members are critical of the party leadership, saying that the premise for the agreement at the general meeting is no longer valid as Koike is becoming increasingly selective in allowing DP members to run in the election on her party's ticket.

Some candidates insist that the agreement at the general meeting be scrapped and that they run as DP candidates, while others demand that they be allowed to split the DP through an agreement and take over part of its organizations and funds.

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