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REPEAT: Tokyo Gov To Start Nat'l Party To Challenge Abe's LDP

Repeats Story Initially Transmitted at 07:20 GMT Sep 25/03:20 EST Sep 25
     TOKYO (MNI) - Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said Monday she is launching a
new national political party to challenge the dominance of the ruling Liberal
Democratic Party, promising to push ahead with economic reforms at a faster pace
than Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
     Koike, a former LDP member of the national Diet who in the past held
defense and environment cabinet portfolios, led a landslide win in July with her
reformist agenda for the metropolitan government, causing the LDP its worst-ever
defeat in the capital.
     "I'm launching a party on my own as the leader," she said, adding she is
"resetting" the preparation by her allies Lower House members Masaru Wakasa and
Goshi Hosono, the latter of whom quit the main opposition Democratic Party to
join the new force.
     The conservative politician said she will start the Party of Hope and "will
be directly involved in national politics," seeking reform-minded allies in the
     But she quickly added that she will continue serving as the governor of
Tokyo to pursue her reform agenda, making the decision-making process more
     Koike, 65, criticized Prime Minister Abe, 63, for planning an early Lower
House election next month, arguing there must be no political vacuum when
geopolitical risks remain high due to saber rattling between North Korea and the
U.S. over Pyongyang's nuclear arms threat.
     But she also said she realized the need to prepare for an early election.
The next Lower House election must take place before mid-December 2018.
     Koike criticized Abe for being too slow in embarking on fiscal and other
economic reforms. She also said Abe's growth strategy is insufficient.
     Abe has reportedly decided to dissolve the Lower House on Thursday at the
start of an extraordinary Diet session Thursday and call a snap election on Oct.
     Public broadcaster NHK said Monday Abe told his decision to senior
officials at the ruling party and received endorsement. Abe is scheduled to hold
a news conference at 1800 JST (0900 GMT) to announce this decision.
     Abe's move is expected to further delay the process of fiscal consolidation
as he plans to use the sales tax hike now planned in October 2019 to fund his
latest project of providing free university education instead of helping to make
public medical and pension plans more sustainable.
     Opposition parties are accusing Abe of avoiding parliamentary
investigations into political scandals by dissolving the Lower House at the
start of the Diet session.
     Abe is taking advantage of the fragmented opposition camp. The main
opposition Democratic Party has seen a senior party member defect to form a new
party. The DP's new leader Seiji Maehara is also cautious about continuing to
team with the Communist Party, which has gained popularity in recent elections.
--MNI Tokyo Bureau; tel: +81 90-4670-5309; email:
--MNI BEIJING Bureau; +1 202-371-2121; email:

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