Tokyo governor names 192 candidates, says won't run herself

TOKYO: Popular Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike named 192 candidates Tuesday for her new party that aims to wrest power from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but insisted she would not stand herself in the Oct 22 election.

Former TV anchorwoman Koike has shaken up Japan's usually sleepy political scene by launching her "Party of Hope", vowing a break with the old school represented by Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Koike plans eventually to have at least 233 candidates for the snap election — giving her a theoretical chance of taking a majority in the powerful lower house of Japan's 465-seat parliament.

But the 65-year-old categorically denied her own candidacy. Asked if she planned to run in the election, she told reporters: "100% no. I've been saying that from the beginning."

Her remarks came after weekend opinion polls by the Yomiuri Shimbun daily showed only 12% of voters would approve of her quitting her governorship of the capital to run for prime minister.

Tomoaki Iwai, professor of politics at Nihon University in Tokyo, said her reluctance to go all in would overshadow her party's campaign.

"She appears to have concluded that she may not be able to take power this time. She thinks this is not a decisive moment," Iwai told AFP.

More than half the candidates presented by Koike Tuesday were former members of the Democratic Party (DP) — previously Japan's main opposition party — which imploded last week.

The election is now effectively a three-horse race between the conservative LDP, Koike's party of hope and a new centre-left party made up of former DP members that did not want to jump on the Tokyo governor's bandwagon.

The latest opinion polls showed that 34% of Japanese planned to vote for the LDP, while 19% favoured Koike's new party.

One quarter of those polled were still undecided.

Abe's LDP, meanwhile, unveiled its election manifesto, including a revision of the pacifist constitution but dropping a previous pledge to restore the nation's finances to surplus. — AFP