Photo/IllutrationLower House lawmakers Goshi Hosono, left, and Masaru Wakasa (Asahi Shimbun file photos)

A Lower House member with close ties to Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and a recent defector from the main opposition party are set to establish a new party early next week.

Koike associate Masaru Wakasa and Goshi Hosono, a former environment minister in the Democratic Party, agreed on Sept. 21 to form the party before the start of the extraordinary Diet session on Sept. 28.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has indicated he will dissolve the Lower House on Sept. 28 and hold a snap election, possibly on Oct. 22.

The planned new party is seeking to run about 100 candidates in that election.

Although Koike has denied any intention of leading the new party, she could still play a key role.

Her local party scored a resounding victory over Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party in the Tokyo metropolitan assembly election held in early July.

Between five and 10 current Diet members are expected to join the new party, including conservative lawmakers who bolted the Democratic Party as well as independents.

Wakasa and Hosono will continue coordinating efforts to determine who will be part of the new entity.

Wakasa is trying to tone down the impression that the new party will consist mainly of former Democratic Party lawmakers, while Hosono wants to bring on board his close associates who once belonged to the main opposition party.

A source with the planned new party said four lawmakers would definitely be included but added that it was possible other lawmakers could be given party endorsements even if they are not official founding members.

In addition to Tokyo and the greater metropolitan area, the new party plans to run candidates on a national basis.

Wakasa has started a political “school,” and some participants could be asked to run in the October election.

In their Sept. 21 meeting, Wakasa and Hosono also discussed the main principles and regulations for the new party. No decision was made on the party name, but the word “first” will likely not be used.

Koike’s local party is called Tomin First no Kai (Tokyo residents first association).

Both Wakasa and Hosono are in favor of amending the Constitution.

Wakasa has also proposed unifying the two chambers of the Diet, while Hosono outlined his constitutional revision proposal in a monthly magazine that went on sale in April.

However, Wakasa said Abe’s proposal to add wording to pacifist Article 9 of the Constitution to clearly define the existence of the Self-Defense Forces was low on the priority list of possible revisions.

(This article was written by Junichi Bekku and Junichiro Ishii.)