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Koike's party unveils 1st list of candidates for upcoming election

The new political party led by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike unveiled
Tuesday its first batch of candidates for the Oct. 22 lower house
election, with party leadership noting that there are still more
names to come.

Kibo no To (party of hope) named 191 hopefuls for single-seat
electoral districts in the 465-seat House of Representatives. They
will also run on proportional representation lists, giving them a
chance to get seats even if they lose in their districts.

The list is set to grow after Koike said Monday the party is
looking at putting up at least 233 candidates in an attempt to take
power from the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

"In total, I think (the number) will be over 233, making it
quite possible for us to aim for a change of government," lower house
lawmaker Masaru Wakasa said after announcing the list Tuesday.

Kibo no To candidates include Koike's close aide Wakasa and
Goshi Hosono, a former environment minister who left the Democratic
Party, as well as participants in a political academy hosted by
Wakasa.

But Koike herself is not on the list and appeared to rule out
any prospect of an immediate return to national politics on Tuesday
when she told reporters, "I'm 100 percent not running in the
election."

The former LDP lower house member's declaration will put an end
to speculation that she may resign as Tokyo governor to make a
comeback.

Wakasa said Tuesday that the first candidate list includes 109
members from the main opposition Democratic Party, which has split.

"We have come together as the Kibo no To, and although we have
various different origins, we must band together to change the
current state of national politics and fight in this election," he
said Tuesday.

The party also released Tuesday a list of conditions on which it
has required its candidates to agree, including a pledge to support a
controversial amendment to the Constitution and freezing a
consumption tax increase planned for October 2019.

The upcoming election will likely be a three-way battle between
the ruling coalition, Kibo no To and a new pro-Constitution group
launched Monday by Yukio Edano, former chief Cabinet secretary when
the Democratic Party's predecessor was in power.

Edano's Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan formally
registered with election authorities on Tuesday. It has been set up
as a container for Democratic Party members unlikely to be accepted
by Koike's party due to differing political beliefs on national
security and an amendment to the pacifist Constitution.

Akira Nagatsuma, former welfare minister, told reporters he,
Edano and four other lower house lawmakers are the founding members
of the new party.

In addition, former Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Hirotaka
Akamatsu, former vice speaker of the lower house, are among those
expected to join the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. "We'd
like to field candidates across Japan and move forward with the aim
of clinching victory," Nagatsuma told reporters. (Oct. 3)