Tokyo Chief Koike Sees Boost as Abe Dissolves Japan Parliament

Japan’s opposition forces appeared set to consolidate around Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, whose new political group narrowed a gap in opinion polls with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party weeks ahead of a general election.

The Democratic Party, which has been one of Japan’s top political groups for the past two decades, may decide at a meeting on Thursday whether to merge with the party Koike launched this week, Kyodo news and other domestic media reported. Abe dissolved parliament on Thursday for an election expected on Oct. 22.

In a survey conducted by the Mainichi newspaper Sept. 26-27, 18 percent of respondents said they would vote for Koike’s Party of Hope in the proportional representation section of the election, placing it second behind Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party on 29 percent. A poll published in the Nikkei newspaper on Monday saw Abe’s party leading both Koike’s group and the Democrats by a five-to-one margin.

“The LDP is vulnerable as the Tokyo governor takes her policies nationwide to form a strong opposition,” Amir Anvarzadeh, head of Japanese equity sales at BGC Partners Inc. in Singapore, said in a note to clients. He added that Abe could even be facing a similar fate to that of UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who lost her parliamentary majority in a snap election in June.

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