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Japan’s Koike pins hopes on tax, nuclear to unseat Abe


(FILES) This file photo taken on September 27, 2017 shows Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike delivering a speech during an inauguration press conference on her new political party “Party of Hope” in Tokyo. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s lead in next month’s election has shrunk as the popular Tokyo governor pushes to unite opposition forces, a survey by Japan’s top-selling daily indicated on September 30, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Toshifumi KITAMURA

The popular governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, Friday unveiled her policy platform to unseat Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, pledging to scrap nuclear power by 2030 and freeze a planned tax hike.

Koike, who has shaken up the sleepy world of Japanese politics with her new Party of Hope, aims to distinguish herself from Abe with her vow to phase out nuclear power in Japan, still haunted by the 2011 Fukushima meltdown.

The party also promised to ditch a proposed sales tax hike from eight to 10 percent. Abe plans to use part of the proceeds from the raise to boost funding for childcare as the country battles a falling birth rate.


Dubbing her new policy platform “Yurinomics” — a clear allusion to her opponent’s “Abenomics” — she said she aimed to “provide hope to Japan and its people”.

Koike hopes to put up enough candidates to form a majority in the 465-seat lower house of parliament after a snap election called by Abe for October 22.

But she has repeatedly stressed that she will not run herself for a seat in parliament, concentrating on running Tokyo, the world’s biggest city and the host of the 2020 Olympic Games.

By law, the Japanese prime minister has to be a member of parliament, meaning that Party of Hope voters have no clear idea at the moment who they would be electing to run the world’s third-largest economy.

Her reticence to go all in with her political gamble appears to be taking some of the wind out of her sails.

After an initial blur of publicity and some favourable polling numbers for Koike, Abe’s conservative LDP party appears to be holding its lead ahead of the official start of campaigning on October 10.

Abe called the snap election hoping to take advantage of a disorganised and weak opposition but was caught unawares by the media-savvy Koike, who unveiled her new party just hours before his election announcement.

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