TOKYO -- The new national party of Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike has been quick off the blocks as it races to seize the opportunity afforded by this month's snap general election, but members are increasingly concerned about the problems created by this haste.
Asked Wednesday about the yet-to-be-released platform of Kibo no To, or Party of Hope, Koike said she expects to announce it Thursday at the earliest. The party is scrutinizing the planks and ensuring a cohesive tone, she said, adding that she aims to issue the platform as soon as possible for the Oct. 22 vote.
The governor indicated that nuclear power policy and economic stimulus, including freezing Japan's consumption tax rate at 8% rather than hiking it to 10% in October 2019 as planned, will be central elements.
Despite lacking an official platform, the party began endorsing candidates Tuesday. Candidates joining up from the Democratic Party as part of a de facto merger are required to sign a pledge to abide by the Party of Hope's campaign promises. With policy details yet to be announced, this amounts to a demand for a blank check.
One former Democrat on the candidate list, Takashi Shinohara, told reporters Wednesday that he had been endorsed by the new party despite not signing the agreement. Shinohara also announced that he would refuse the party's backing and run as an independent.
Masaru Wakasa, a founding Party of Hope member and close ally of Koike, is coordinating with other parties regarding the selection of candidates. But some accuse him of lacking a full grasp of the individual districts. The endorsement list circulated Tuesday was marred by typographical errors.
The new party remains short on support staff, prompting one ex-Democrat to grumble that party offices "aren't functioning at all." And political newcomers running under the Party of Hope banner complain that they are uncertain where to address questions about campaigning.
Confusion is evident at the top as well. Democratic Party leader Seiji Maehara initially said the intention was for the Party of Hope to accept all Democrats wishing to join, only for Koike to insist she had no plans to do so. Similarly, Wakasa recently said that the Party of Hope seeks to win power after this election, but Koike soon contradicted him by asserting that the party does aim for victory this time as well.
The new party continues to rely largely on Koike, with the rest of the leadership structure still unclear. To make matters worse, the governor has repeatedly denied having any intention of running for a seat herself, leaving some in the party uneasy.