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Japan's progressive upstart rattles political establishment

Newcomer's party could shake up national election that lawmakers expect next year

Reiwa Shinsengumi party leader Taro Yamamoto speaks during a campaign rally in July. Yamamoto has been compared with progressive U.S. lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.   © Kyodo

TOKYO -- The leader of a small political party with just two seats in the upper house of parliament is emerging as a credible threat to Japan's political establishment.

Taro Yamamoto, 45, who heads the Reiwa Shinsengumi party, is rumored to be contemplating a run in the Tokyo gubernatorial election slated for next July. Some in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party reckon he could mount a serious challenge against the reelection of incumbent Yuriko Koike if all opposition parties rally behind him.

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