Both Komeito and the Democratic Party (DP) are approaching Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike in anticipation of the Metropolitan Assembly election this summer. Koike has indicated willingness to cooperate with these two parties, so there seems to be a “tug-of-war” over Koike. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is at a loss over how to mend ties with Koike. Certain party members fear that the party may suffer a crushing defeat in the Tokyo election if it remains at odds with Koike, who is very popular among Tokyoites, according to a senior LDP official.
Komeito and the LDP fought against Koike in the gubernatorial race last summer. However, Komeito ended its cooperation with the LDP in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly last December and has openly declared its cooperation with Koike. The “Tomin First no Kai [Tokyoites First Group],” the political organization that manages Koike’s political academy, is poised to get 40 of its members elected in the Tokyo election. It appears that Komeito, which attaches utmost importance to the Tokyo election, also wants to avoid clashing with Koike’s candidates.
The DP is also trying to woo Koike. Its president Renho stated at a news conference on Jan. 4: “We would like to engage in working level discussions on how we can cooperate, including in the electoral districts,” indicating her desire to engage in election cooperation in the Metropolitan Assembly race.
Renho was elected to the House of Councillors from Tokyo. If she fails to produce results in her own constituency, this may immediately lead to the weakening of her leadership in the party.
On her part, Koike said at a news conference on Jan. 6, “If cooperation will help promote Tokyo’s great reform, it is indeed necessary to hold working level talks.”
On the other hand, the LDP’s conflict with Koike remains serious, since it expelled seven Tokyo ward assembly members in December for supporting Koike in the gubernatorial election.
With Komeito moving closer to Koike, the rift between the two ruling parties is widening. Although LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai called for cooperation in the Metropolitan Assembly election at the Komeito headquarters on Jan. 6, senior Komeito officials mumbled that “cooperation will be difficult.” LDP members lament that they are at the mercy of Koike’s strategy, according to a mid-ranking LDP lawmaker. (Slightly abridged)