Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, who has assumed the leadership of the new Kibo no To [Party of Hope], is making advances to Komeito. While Komeito is reacting strongly to the move by Koike – whose regional party, the Tomin First [Tokyoites First] party, it cooperated with in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly in July — to go into national politics, Koike is hoping to cooperate with Komeito at the national level. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which is cooperating with Komeito in the House of Representatives election, is becoming suspicious of the relationship between the Party of Hope and Komeito.
Koike stated during a Fuji TV program on the evening of Sept. 25 that she would vote for Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi in the special Diet session to elect the prime minister after the election.
Komeito is critical of Koike’s becoming the Party of Hope leader because the two sides agreed during the Tokyo assembly election that Koike would not go into national politics.
Yamaguchi expressed surprise at Koike’s remark on voting for him as prime minister. He said: “We have consistently maintained the LDP-Komeito coalition at the national level. Isn’t it her job as governor to meet the Tokyo people’s expectations?” indicating his displeasure.
Koike is aiming at winning a majority of seats in the Lower House election. Her party plans to field candidates in all 25 single-seat districts in Tokyo, except for the 12th district, where former Komeito leader Akihiro Ota is running. Outside Tokyo, it will also refrain from fielding candidates in eight constituencies with incumbent Komeito Lower House members.
However, the new party is expected to compete with Komeito for votes of unaffiliated voters in the proportional representation section, so Komeito is wary that “Koike’s prominent role will constitute a threat.”
On the other hand, certain LDP officials are suspicious that “Komeito and Koike might be sounding out each other for cooperation behind the scenes,” according to a veteran lawmaker. Wary of Koike’s influence, there is also an opinion favoring “looking for ways to cooperate with Koike on policy,” according to former Regional Revitalization Minister Shigeru Ishiba.
The LDP is also anxious because Komeito is cooperating with the Kansai-based Nippon Ishin [Japan Innovation Party]. In exchange for Nippon Ishin’s refraining from fielding candidates in six constituencies in Osaka and Hyogo where there are incumbent Komeito Diet members, Komeito will give support to Nippon Ishin’s Osaka Metropolis Plan.
LDP Election Strategy Chairman Ryu Shionoya told reporters at the party headquarters on Sept. 26: “We will work hard for consolidating the LDP-Komeito coalition.” (Slightly abridged)