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New Kibo party to field at least 233 candidates, aim for lower house majority

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike (Mainichi)

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said her fledgling national party Kibo no To (Party of Hope) is aiming to field at least 233 candidates in the upcoming House of Representatives election in an attempt to win a majority in the powerful 465-seat chamber.

"We are looking to field our candidates so our party can be an alternative for voters in selecting a new government," Koike said during a press conference at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government office on Sept. 29.

"Of course I believe our party can field well over 100 candidates. We will do our utmost so we can aim for, as far as possible, beyond that figure," she added, promoting her party's full-scale campaign for the general election slated for Oct. 22.

With regard to legislators from the largest opposition Democratic Party (DP) who are seeking to run in the election on Kibo no To's ticket, Koike said her party will be selective.

"We will reject some (DP) members," she said.

The minimum necessary criteria for DP members to be backed by Kibo no To in the poll will be that they "share the same views with us on security and the Constitution," Koike said. "We will decide (whom to back) based on their views up until now.

"Some DP members have apparently come to believe the country should take a realistic response over the ongoing North Korean situation," she said, suggesting that DP members ought to leave behind such DP policies as repealing security legislation in order to join the new party.

Koike lauded the opposition Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party, JIP) headed by Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui, saying, "We share the same views over political reforms." She said her party would coordinate with the JIP over which constituencies the two parties would field their candidates in. "We will reach a conclusion after confirming the respective parties' status in each constituency," she said.

Earlier that morning, Koike met DP head Seiji Maehara at a hotel in Tokyo, where the two leaders agreed to swiftly coordinate their candidates. They also confirmed that the DP's deputy election strategist Koichiro Genba and Kibo's former legislator Masaru Wakasa would hold working-level talks over the matter. Following the meeting, Koike reiterated before media representatives that she has no intention of running in the general election.

After holding talks with Genba at a hotel in the capital later that day, Wakasa revealed during a BS Fuji program that evening that the DP has already presented an initial list of over 100 party members who aspire to run in the race on the ticket of Kibo no To, including former legislators and first-time candidates.

Kibo no To is also rushing to formulate an election platform. While Kibo and the DP have set up a liaison council to discuss policy measures, Koike told reporters at the Sept. 29 press conference, "Kibo no To will set forth our policy measures. They are not something to be agreed upon by the two parties. There is no talk of the two parties merging into one."

The new party announced that Koike will travel to the city of Osaka on Sept. 30 to meet Osaka Gov. and JIP leader Ichiro Matsui and Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura. The three will hold a joint press conference after the meeting, where they are expected to announce their cooperation in the general election.

"We will cooperate with each other to ensure decentralization of power in a true sense. We will also talk about being in the ring for the election," Koike said during the Sept. 29 press meeting.

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