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Party of Hope to call for nuclear plant ban in Constitution

The newly formed Party of Hope will call for Japan to abandon
nuclear power and enshrine that decision in a revised Constitution,
its draft policy manifesto showed Thursday.

The party led by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike also plans to introduce
an economic policy mix dubbed "Yurinomics," according to the
manifesto, which will be presented in tandem with its electoral
pledges for the lower house poll on Oct. 22.

Despite her position at the center of the new party's campaign,
Koike reiterated Thursday that she does not plan to resign as
governor to run in the general election, for which official
campaigning will begin on Tuesday next week.

The Party of Hope supports -- as does the ruling coalition of
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and the smaller
Komeito party -- revising the 70-year-old Japanese Constitution for
the first time.

In its pledges for the House of Representatives election, the
Party of Hope is expected to promise to scrap all of Japan's nuclear
power plants by 2030.

According to the draft policy manifesto obtained by Kyodo News,
enshrining that nuclear power-free status in the Constitution would
protect it from interference by future governments.

The Abe administration, meanwhile, aims to bring some of Japan's
idled reactors back online under safety regulations that were
tightened in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The Yurinomics name riffs off the "Abenomics" policy package
championed by Abe. Koike's party, founded just last week, aims to
take power from the coalition that has ruled under Abe for nearly
five years.

But Koike reiterated she will not stand in the election.

The governor said she was asked to run during a meeting on
Thursday with Seiji Maehara, leader of the disintegrating Democratic
Party, whose conservative wing has mostly been absorbed by the Party
of Hope.

"I communicated (to Maehara) again that I will not run," she
told reporters after the meeting.

But Maehara hinted that it is still not too late for her to
decide to run before official campaigning begins.

"(Koike) herself may be thinking that this is all
settled...(but) in the end this election is about who will be prime
minister. I think Ms. Koike is the one," he told reporters after the
meeting.

The two are planning to meet again on Friday, a source close to
the matter said.

The Party of Hope has still not made clear who it would like to
see as prime minister if not Koike.

Maehara told reporters that he and Koike agreed that the Party
of Hope should make clear its preferred prime minister soon, while
Koike said she will "thoroughly discuss (the matter) with my
colleagues."

The Party of Hope's draft manifesto says it will support the
adoption of renewable energy technologies in order to make them
account for at least 30 percent of Japan's energy mix.

Under Yurinomics, the government would increase revenue by
taxing earnings retained by major companies, instead of raising the
consumption tax rate from 8 to 10 percent in October 2019 as planned
by the Abe administration. It would also stimulate household
consumption by tackling education, healthcare and aged care costs.

As for whether the Constitution should specify the role of the
country's Self-Defense Forces, which are currently not mentioned in
the document, the draft manifesto says the Party of Hope will "make a
decision after determining whether or not we can gain the public's
understanding."

Abe has proposed retaining the current form of the
Constitution's Article 9, by which Japan renounces war and the
maintenance of "war potential," but adding an explicit mention of the
status of the SDF.

The Party of Hope's draft policy collection also stresses the
importance of transparent government.

To that end, the party says it wants to make public all
information connected to two separate scandals that dominated
headlines earlier this year in which Abe and other officials were
accused of giving special treatment to education projects in western
Japan led by acquaintances of the prime minister. (Oct. 5)


Party of Hope leader Yuriko Koike (front L), alongside Democratic Party leader Seiji Maehara (front R), speaks to reporters in Tokyo on Oct. 5, 2017. Koike reiterated that she does not plan to resign as Tokyo governor to run in the Oct. 22 House of Representatives election. The two opposition parties have formed an alliance against the Liberal Democratic Party-led ruling coalition. (Kyodo)