Ja­pan’s Koike steps down as head of party

Kuwait Times - - International -

TOKYO: Tokyo Gover­nor Yuriko Koike, once seen as a pos­si­ble first Ja­panese fe­male prime min­is­ter, stepped down as leader of her party yes­ter­day af­ter suf­fer­ing a crush­ing elec­tion de­feat last month. Vow­ing to do away with “old politics,” the charis­matic former tele­vi­sion an­chor­woman launched a new party in Septem­ber that as­pired to of­fer an al­ter­na­tive to the long-gov­ern­ing Lib­eral Demo­cratic Party and its leader Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe in the Oc­to­ber 22 snap elec­tions.

Her new “Party of Hope” fielded 235 can­di­dates for the poll but won a mere 50 seats while Abe’s rul­ing coali­tion grabbed a two-thirds ma­jor­ity. Koike’s sup­port im­ploded par­tially be­cause she failed to stand her­self in the elec­tion-con­fus­ing vot­ers who did not know who would be premier if she won. In opin­ion polls con­ducted by the Sankei Shim­bun at the week­end, sup­port for her party dropped to 3.9 per­cent from 9.5 per­cent last

month, with more than 77 per­cent of re­spon­dents call­ing on her to con­cen­trate on her job as Tokyo gover­nor.

“Step­ping down as the head, I want to sup­port you in an ap­pro­pri­ate ca­pac­ity,” Koike told a party con­fer­ence af­ter it se­lected its ex­ec­u­tive mem­bers. Koike said she would stay within the party while fo­cus­ing on her job as gover­nor of Tokyo, with the cap­i­tal set to host the Sum­mer Olympics in 2020. “I have fin­ished my re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as the founder,” she told re­porters. “As gover­nor I will put the metropoli­tan ad­min­is­tra­tion first and co­op­er­ate with law­mak­ers of a re­born Party of Hope,” she added.

‘Iron plate’

The 65-year-old was elected Tokyo gover­nor last year, one of sev­eral jobs the trail­blazer has been the first woman to fill. She once com­plained that Ja­pan has not just a glass ceil­ing but an “iron plate” hold­ing women back. The cre­ation of the “Party of Hope” sent shock­waves through Ja­panese politics and caused the im­me­di­ate im­plo­sion of the main op­po­si­tion party, as scores of mem­bers pinned their col­ors to the Koike mast. But crit­ics at­tacked her both for lack­ing a clear pol­icy plat­form and for tak­ing a dic­ta­to­rial ap­proach to the new par­tyshe re­port­edly forced po­ten­tial mem­bers to sign a pledge that was leaked to the me­dia. — AFP

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