Tokyo Ex-Governor Joins New Conservative Party

Outspoken leaders from Japan’s two biggest cities formed a national political party Saturday, seeking to become “a third force” to lure undecided voters and challenge the country’s two biggest parties.

Nationalist Shintaro Ishihara, who resigned as Tokyo governor to create his own party this week, said he is scrapping his four-day-old group to join the Japan Restoration Party formed in September by the young and brash mayor of Osaka, Toru Hashimoto.

The announcement comes the day after Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda dissolved the lower house of parliament, paving the way elections next month. His ruling party is expected to give way to a weak coalition government divided over how to tackle Japan’s myriad problems. The biggest problems are getting a stagnant economy going again and reconstruction after the crippling March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Elections are set for Dec. 16, with official campaigning starting Dec. 4. If Noda’s centrist party loses, the economically sputtering country will get its seventh prime minister in six and a half years.

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Shintaro Ishihara, Former Tokyo Governor, Launches New Conservative Party

Former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara on Tuesday launched a new conservative party with the aim of forming a “third force” to run in the next general elections.

The new party, named Taiyo no To (Party of the Sun), is jointly headed by Ishihara and Takeo Hiranuma, veteran lawmaker and leader of the Opposition Sunrise Party of Japan.

The conservative Sunrise Party’s all five lawmakers, including Hiranuma, have joined the new party.

The formation of a new party is expected to re-write the political equations in Japan ahead of the looming House of Representatives election.

Before becoming Tokyo Governor in 1999, Ishihara was a lawmaker of the Liberal Democratic Party, and had served as a Cabinet Minister twice.

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