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>> A stepped up challenge to Japan's leader, Shinzo Abe. But will Tokyo Governor, Yuriko Koike, take a run at the top job herself or wait. Her brand new party of hope has traction going into snap elections this month. Some say enough to potentially threaten Abe's majority in parliament.
But on Wednesday, she flat out denied she plans to run for a seat, which she would need in order to aim for the top. As Reuters Japan Bureau Chief, Billy Mallard, explains Koike could be biding her time. If she's going to announce that she's running, she probably doesn't want to do it until October 5th, that's Thursday, because the Tokyo Legislative Assembly is still in session.
And let's not forget, she is the Governor of Tokyo, so it might be unseemly for her to announce she was running while her own assembly is still in session. She is an adroit politician who has surprised people before. Her local party, that she started just this year, came out of nowhere to an overwhelming victory in a Tokyo local elections in July.
It's gotta be seen as an appeal battle for her party, and she's casting it that way. But you can't rule her out, given her record of surprises. Until now, the main opposition has largely failed to rally voters during Abe's four years in power. And whether she runs or not, Koike's party may cease on those eager for an alternative.
This is the first time that we may actually see a real challenge to Abe to see him on the run. His popularity dropped precipitously early this year, because of several scandals, allegations of cronyism among his friends, and then perceptions that his leadership was arrogant. So he really took a beating in the pulse that stabilized, and so he figured this was the best time to call an election.
But now, he may be in for the fight of his life. On Monday, Koike said her party plans to run more than the 233 candidates, they need to grab the majority. If she isn't among them, she won't risk backlash for leaving her post as Governor after less than a year.
But she could risk a prime shot at the top job in Japanese politics.