Monday, 10 December, 2018

Japan heads towards election as opposition parties mobilise

Close												Koike wants to make Tokyo a more attractive hub for international finance Close Koike wants to make Tokyo a more attractive hub for international finance
Troy Mann | 29 September, 2017, 01:02

Five potential candidates jumped ship on Tuesday to join the new party, prompting emergency talks between DP leader Seiji Maehara and Ms Koike.

The election is expected to be held on October 22.

PM Abe's campaign is starting from a position of strength where the LDP and its coalition partner control two thirds of the parliament.

Most commentators say Koike's new party, called the "Party of Hope", will not have enough time to mount a serious nationwide challenge to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before the snap vote.

Koike officially launched her Party of Hope on Wednesday, pitting her against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, now in his fifth year as premier but dogged by scandals and mediocre (though rising) public approval ratings.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike described Kibo No To as the "tolerant, centrist, reform-minded" alternative to the LDP, promising to pursue politics clean of vested interests in a bid to "reset" Japan.

According to global media, Abe, who held the office in 2012, seeks to expand his grip on power withing in his party, Liberal-Democratic party for extending its premiership next year.

"A consumption tax hike will only cool down consumption", Koike told a press conference on Thursday, proposing instead to make better use of state-owned assets to rebuild the country's finances.

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said it will be hard to achieve the goal of achieving a balanced budget except for interest payments by 2020 as planned.

On Monday the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, announced what seemed to be a routine snap election, meant to take advantage of the weakness of the opposition to secure four more years in power.

Koike, a former minister in the LDP, became the first female governor of Tokyo previous year, winning in a landslide against Abe's favored candidate after promising to tackle corruption, empower women, and restore Tokyo's status as a leading financial center.

"We can not entrust the safety of Japan and the future of our children to a party that changes its banner just for the sake of an election", Abe told party members in comments broadcast by NHK.

"I hope you all understand the decision to choose substance over appearance", Maehara told a meeting of party lawmakers held after the House of Representatives was dissolved.

A survey by the Mainichi newspaper showed 18 per cent of voters plan to vote for Koike's Party of Hope compared to 29 per cent for Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

On Monday, Abe said calling of a snap election is to seek a mandate on his policies to address Japan's rapidly aging society, falling birth rate and issues of security related to tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

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