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Party of Hope election defeat leaves Koike-affiliated Tokyoites First in shock

Party of Hope leader and Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike speaks to the party's Diet caucus at a meeting in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Oct. 25, 2017. (Mainichi)

The defeat of Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike's Party of Hope in the Oct. 22 general election is sending shockwaves through the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, where the Koike-affiliated Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites First) party holds the most seats.

The party's members are alarmed at a decline in Koike's popularity following the House of Representatives poll. Meanwhile, the assembly's Democratic Party (DP) faction has reversed plans to merge with Tomin, and the latter's assembly partner Komeito is keeping "a watchful eye" on the Tokyo governor's next moves, according to a Komeito executive.

On the other side of the aisle, an executive from the metro assembly's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) faction commented, "We cooperated with Komeito in the general election, but that doesn't mean we no longer feel the sting of the assembly election (when Komeito partnered with Tomin). Tomin First is wavering, so we would like to wait to see both sides' (Tomin and Komeito) next moves."

Tomin held an assembly members' meeting on Oct. 23, and resolved to tighten up its operations.

It was just three and a half months ago that the new local party won 55 of the metro assembly's 127 seats. Since then, two members have quit Tomin after protesting against Koike becoming leader of the Party of Hope. This appears to have impacted Hope's general election prospects as well, as the new force took just one single-seat constituency in Tokyo while losing in 22 other constituencies in the capital.

"The Party of Hope and Tomin First are separate organizations," stated one Tomin executive, seeking to shield the party from the shockwaves released by Hope's Oct. 22 flop. However, one Tomin veteran assembly member told the Mainichi Shimbun, "There are a lot of new assembly members who won their seats by leaning on Koike's name, and they are feeling anxious about the decline in public support for her. That anxiety could lead to dissatisfaction."

Furthermore, there is growing speculation among students of Koike's "Kibo no juku" (school of hope) political school that its second session -- due to start on Nov. 12 -- will be delayed.

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