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Koike’s new party gains traction before general elections

Koike’s new party gains traction before general elections

Posted September. 29, 2017 07:56,   

Updated September. 29, 2017 08:52


The tapping of high heels is coming closer, with a woman revealing herself from the far end of a dark corridor. Evil faced men are yelling at her, but she goes on her way towards bright light. A question that goes, “Are you going to endure or make a difference together?” is conjured up with the word “Party of Hope” closing the last scene.

This is a PR footage of Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike (65) uploaded on YouTube. The PR video of her Party of Hope is filled with images that are of Koike, by Koike, and for Koike. Following Prime Minister Abe’s call for snap election, the House of Representatives was dissolved Thursday. A survey found that her new party is voters’ second favorite after the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The first female party chairman in Japan’s political history has become the eye of a typhoon overnight.

Koike’s father, who was a trader, used to tell his daughter that “It is a shame to follow others’ behaviors.” And she was faithful to her father’s advice throughout her life. In 1971, she went to Egypt for study before becoming an Arabic interpreter and a news anchor, and entered politics when she turned 40. Afterwards, Koike continued to win in her political gambling, on the back of her global image based on fluent Arabic and English, and her shrewd skills to handle media as a former anchorwoman. While appointed as the first female defense minister in the Abe administration, a non-mainstream as she was, Keiko was denied nomination when running for Tokyo Governor’s office last year, but won a sweeping victory as an independent candidate. Her momentum continued during the municipal election of Tokyo this July, on the strength of her Tokyo Citizens First Association.

If the past battles were local, the snap election scheduled to be called on Oct. 22 could be likened to an all-out war. It is drawing attention not only in Japan but also from worldwide whether Abe’s gambling for third consecutive rule under the pretext of the North Korea crisis would work or the new party of the fast emerging political icon of Japan could prevail. Koike’s extreme rightist penchant, however, poses much discomfort to South Koreans. She has denied the forcible nature of mobilization of comfort women by the Imperial Japan, and on Sept. 1, she ignored the customary sending of a letter to the memories of Koreans who were massacred by Japans’ atrocities after the Great Kanto earthquake. Some say her extreme nationalist streaks are comparable to Abe’s, if not more. Whoever wins will likely further accelerate Japans’ already worrisome rightist shift.