Asia Minute: Japan’s Ruling Party Leads as Election Approaches

Oct 9, 2017

Governor Yuriko Koike and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Credit Wikimedia Commons

In less than two weeks, Japanese voters will go to the polls in national elections. While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to extend his term, the plans of the opposition are less clear. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

The main political voice in Japan opposed to the Prime Minister appears not to be running for the position.

Yuriko Koike is the governor of Tokyo, and she launched a new political party just a couple of weeks ago. But she says she will not resign her post to run in Japan’s lower house elections on October 22nd.

That means she cannot unseat Shinzo Abe as Prime Minister.

But her new right of center political party is getting wide attention.

It’s called “The Party of Hope,” and leaders put out its platform on Friday.

The party would freeze a planned increase in the sales tax and cut the salaries and number of members of the Diet—Japan’s parliament.

The platform also calls for the elimination of nuclear power in Japan by the year 2030, and a public national debate about possibly amending article 9 of the constitution—the one that renounces war.

Another new political party has sprung up in Japan this month: the left-leaning Constitutional Democratic Party.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party still leads in national polls.

So far, the Party of Hope has 203 candidates—and time is running out to register more.

That means its political influence could be limited at best, and would definitely be short of a majority in Japan’s 465-seat lower house of the Diet.