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Politicians continue to leave DP to join Koike’s new party

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Liberal Democratic Party [LDP] president) will dissolve the House of Representatives at the beginning of the extraordinary Diet session on Sept. 28. The government is expected to decide at an ad hoc cabinet meeting after the dissolution that official campaign period for the Lower House election will start on Oct. 10 and voting will take place on Oct. 22.


Ahead of the imminent Lower House dissolution, five former Diet members and rookies who had been designated as official candidates of the Democratic Party (DP) submitted their resignation to the party on Sept. 26. They are all planning to run as candidates of the new Kibo no To [Party of Hope] that will be officially launched at a news conference on Sept. 27.


Three designated DP official candidates in Kanagawa Prefecture and two from Shizuoka Prefecture submitted their resignation on Sept. 26.


They abandoned the DP in order to run as candidates of the Party of Hope headed by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike. Former Environment Minister Goshi Hosono, whose constituency is in Shizuoka, and Lower House member Hirofumi Ryu elected from Kanagawa will be joining the Party of Hope, so it is reckoned that the two were involved in persuading the defectors.


The DP held a meeting of its election strategy headquarters on Sept. 26. President Seiji Maehara called for “unity to force the Abe administration to step down,” but more party members may bolt the DP.


Some 15 Diet members, including Koike’s close ally Lower House member Masaru Wakasa, are expected to join the Party of Hope to be launched on Sept. 27.


Koike and Wakasa held a meeting at a hotel in Tokyo on the evening of Sept. 26 for final coordination. According to an informed source, they decided to state in the party platform that the Party of Hope “aims to be an open-minded conservative party.”


Meanwhile, the LDP stepped up efforts to field its candidates on Sept. 26. It has also decided to use the slogan “safeguard this country to the end” in its campaign posters, in line with Abe’s statement at his news conference on Sept. 25 announcing the plan to dissolve the Lower house that Japan is facing a “national crisis” in light of the low birthrate and aging population and the North Korea situation. (Slightly abridged)

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