All papers reported extensively on current and former Diet members rushing to leave the Democratic Party to join the new Party of Hope led by Tokyo Governor Koike in a bid to maintain or recapture their parliamentary seats in the upcoming general election. Asahi said at least 23 DP politicians are considering leaving the embattled party, which they have concluded is no longer capable of regaining public confidence. A DP legislator who is mulling joining the Party of Hope said: “The new party is attracting attention due to the strong popularity of Governor Koike.”
Sankei said calls for disbanding the party are rapidly mounting among some DP parliamentarians so that they can also join the new party and create a new group of “non-LDP, anti-communists.” Such calls are emerging in response to Governor Koike’s insistence that she is not interested in merging her party with any existing political party and that those wishing to join will have to apply for membership individually. According to Asahi, Koike plans to personally interview prospective candidates to assess their “qualifications.” DP members critical of the party leadership’s moves to seek election cooperation with the Japanese Communist Party are calling for disbanding the party. The dailies said DP President Maehara may choose to merge the party with the Liberal Party headed by Ozawa in an attempt to turn around the dismal outlook for the party.
Meanwhile, Nikkei claimed that Maehara and Koike met last night and exchanged views on possible cooperation in the upcoming election to defeat the ruling coalition. In a meeting held yesterday with President Kozu of Rengo (Japanese Trade Union Confederation), the party’s largest supporter, Maehara stressed that the DP must explore coordination with the Party of Hope. The DP leader separately told his deputies: “All options must be considered to defeat the Abe administration.” The daily said Koike apparently holds the key to the fate of the DP, noting that she is hoping Maehara will break ranks with the party’s liberal wing.