November 14, 2017 5:53 pm JST  (Updated November 14, 2017 6:15 pm JST)

Tokyo governor Koike quits as head of 'Party of Hope'

Founder vows to continue support of party, but leave 'national political matters' to Diet

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike resigned as Party of Hope leader on Tuesday. (Photo by Uichiro Kasai)

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said Tuesday she will resign as leader of the Party of Hope after the fledgling party she founded performed poorly in last month's general election.

"I want to leave national political matters to Diet members. I founded the party, but I will step down as representative and support you all in an appropriate manner," Koike said at a party general meeting at which its new leadership was endorsed.

Koike will be succeeded by Yuichiro Tamaki, a lower house lawmaker who was recently picked as the party's co-leader.

The party picked Tamaki as its parliamentary head last week after Koike said she wanted to concentrate on her job as Tokyo governor following what she described as an "utter defeat" in the general election.

Koike established her national political party in the run-up to the Oct. 22 House of Representatives election in an effort to defeat Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling coalition.

It was rumored that the first female governor of Tokyo would run in the general election as a step toward becoming the first female prime minister of Japan.

But she had been criticized for doubling as the national political party leader and governor. Koike left the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to run in last year's gubernatorial election.

The Party of Hope absorbed a number of lawmakers from the Democratic Party after former leader Seiji Maehara decided to disband the then main opposition party to enable its members to run as candidates for Koike's party.

But Koike apparently alienated some voters when she said she would "exclude" left-leaning members whose views differed from her on such issues as national security and possible revision of Japan's pacifist Constitution.

The Party of Hope fielded 235 candidates nationwide but managed to secure just 50 of the 465 seats up for grabs, trailing the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, which became the largest opposition force by securing 54 seats in the election. The members of the CDPJ include those who were rejected by Koike.

Abe's Liberal Democratic Party secured a two-thirds majority in the lower chamber with its junior coalition partner the Komeito party.

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