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Edano to set up liberal party with DP members who reject joining 'Hope' party

DP Deputy President Yukio Edano answers questions from reporters following a meeting at the headquarters of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on the morning of Oct. 2, 2017. (Mainichi)

Yukio Edano, deputy president of the largest opposition Democratic Party (DP), has entered the final phase of his preparations to set up a new liberal political party with former House of Representatives members of the DP who will not join the newly formed Kibo no To (Party of Hope), sources close to him said.

Edano is poised to announce the formation of his new party as early as the afternoon of Oct. 2.

After consulting with those involved in the plan over the phone at his office in the Diet, Edano visited the headquarters of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), a key backing group for the DP, to seek support for his planned new party.

The DP has decided to effectively merge into Kibo no To, headed by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, but Koike said she has no intention of accepting all DP legislators, suggesting that she will bar liberal members of the DP from joining her party. Koike calls Kibo no To a tolerant, reform-minded conservative party.

Edano intends to launch his new party in time for campaigning for the Oct. 22 lower house election, which will be called after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolved the chamber on Sept. 28.

Former lower house Vice Speaker Hirotaka Akamatsu and other former DP members of the lower chamber -- including Takahiro Sasaki, Kiyomi Tsujimoto and Tomoko Abe -- are expected to join the new party.

Some of the new candidates, who had intended to run on the DP ticket but were shunned by Kibo no To, will also likely join the party.

At least four DP members of the House of Councillors -- Kumiko Aihara, Yoshifu Arita, Takashi Esaki and Mieko Kamimoto -- are also considering participating in the formation of Edano's party.

Former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of the DP has expressed his intention to run in the election as an independent, while former DP President Katsuya Okada was also set to announce his plan to do so at a press conference to be held later on Oct. 2.

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