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Yuriko Koike, governor of Tokyo and head of the Party of Hope, spoke with The Nikkei on Friday.
Politics

Koike won't run, but still undecided on prime minister pick

Tokyo gov says she's open to changes to proposed tax on retained earnings

| Japan

TOKYO -- Yuriko Koike has not yet decided who her new national party would nominate as prime minister after Japan's upcoming lower house election, but it won't be her, the Tokyo governor told The Nikkei on Friday.

Koike is 200% certain that she will not run in the Oct. 22 election, she said in the interview. "I was never considering it from the start," she added.

A former member of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Koike was elected eight times to the lower house but left national politics to run for governor of the capital in 2016. Her decision not to run in the Oct. 22 general election would disqualify her to be prime minister, who must be chosen from among members of the parliament, or Diet.

Formed just last month, her Kibo no To, or Party of Hope, seeks to topple Abe's nearly five-year-old government.

"We are the challenger, so we're aiming for a standalone majority," she said when asked about the potential composition of a post-election government.

Koike slammed the Abe government for its "slow" pace of reforms. "I don't think the LDP can catch up with how quickly the world is changing," she said.

Asked whether she is willing to work with the LDP in the parliament, she said, "the goal is to carry out meaningful reform, so I want to first see whether they really have the desire for it."

'Realistic' tax measures

In its campaign platform published Friday, the Party of Hope came out in favor of postponing a planned consumption tax hike to 10% in October 2019 -- which Abe himself has done twice before for economic reasons. "We need to first stop and think about how to address the falling birthrate and the future of our welfare system," Koike said.

On Abe's proposal to spend more of the extra tax revenue on child care and education, Koike said, "I can only see it as a justification he came up with after the fact for calling an election."

The Party of Hope has instead proposed a tax on cash reserves held by major corporations, which are said to total some 300 trillion yen ($2.66 trillion).

"A 2% tax would generate 6 trillion yen" in revenue, Koike said. But she also said she was open to discussing other "realistic" measures to encourage companies to spend their cash on wages, dividends and capital investment.

"We could offer incentives based on [the Tokyo Stock Exchange's] corporate governance code," she said.

(Nikkei)

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