Giving Up Hope

How Yuriko Koike Lost Japan's Snap Election

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike other Party of Hope lawmakers campaigning in Tokyo, October 2017. Issei Kato / REUTERS

On September 25, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike upstaged Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by announcing that she would lead her newly created Party of Hope in the snap election that Abe announced later that same day. For a moment, it seemed that Abe had made a colossal error in calling an early vote: instead of competing against a divided and disintegrating Democratic Party (DP), his Liberal Democratic Party would face an up-and-coming conservative group led by Koike, who had trounced the LDP’s candidates in Tokyo’s municipal elections in July.

As it turned out, the Party of Hope fizzled. After an initial surge in opinion polls following the party’s launch, its support plummeted, even in Tokyo. When the general election votes were tallied on October 22, Koike’s party came nowhere close to threatening the LDP’s grip on power. After fielding 235 candidates, the Party of Hope won only 49 seats.

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