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Yuriko Koike has quit as leader of the Party of Hope she founded just two months ago after suffering a heavy defeat in Japan’s recent general election.
The Tokyo governor’s departure brings to an end her brief attempt at challenging Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in national politics and leaves the future of her party in doubt.
Ms Koike’s creation of the Party of Hope has transformed Japan’s political landscape, with the opposition fragmenting after the collapse of the old Democratic party. However, she is now likely to finish her career in her current role as a local government politician.
“I would like to entrust national politics to you,” she told a meeting of her party’s parliamentarians. “Our direction is already decided so I hope you will take it forward steadily. I would like to step down as president and support you.”
Ms Koike said she would concentrate on running Tokyo instead of becoming Japan’s first female prime minister. Her term as governor runs until 2020, by which time she will be 68 years old.
The party’s new leader will be 48-year-old Yuichiro Tamaki, a former Democrat who managed to hold his seat on the island of Shikoku, one of the few Party of Hope candidates to do so.
Ms Koike’s party won only 50 out of 465 seats in last month’s election, taking 17 per cent of the proportional representation vote, and coming third to another newly established party, the Constitutional Democrats.
Mr Tamaki is little known by the wider public, raising questions about how the Party of Hope will compete in future elections without its charismatic leader.
The Tokyo governor set up her new party on the day Mr Abe called a general election. She vowed to run candidates nationwide, promising the same “reform…