The deadline has passed, 1180 people have put up their hands to compete across the country for 465 seats in the lower house of the Japanese parliament. Koike Yuriko is not one of them. It has been fairly clear for the last few days that she wouldn't stand, the bigger surprise today would have been if she had.
So it is on to the campaign trail. Koike hit the hustings early around Tokyo, starting at Ikebukuro, her 'home ground' in Tokyo, the electorate she previously represented in parliament (she is originally from Kobe). Tomorrow she is off to prefectures in Tohoku, around Fukushima where I expect her Zero Nuclear Power promise will have some meaning (just how this national campaigning will play out with her Tokyo local government constituency is yet to be seen).
It will be a tough campaign, but interesting, to watch Koike seeking to convince voters to vote for her party, and put it in a position to have influence in the next parliament even though she is not up for election. It will be a test of whether people are interested in Kibo no To policies or follow the party because of Koike. In other words, is it personality-based politics or policy-drived politics?
Over the next couple of weeks on this blog, besides Koike, I will be highlighting other women candidates as well, across the parties and into their electorates as I work through the 1180 nominees.
Twenty-eight years ago, the then leader of the (then) Japan Socialist Party, the late Doi Takako inspired a number of women to get into politics, some of whom are still on the scene. I am wondering whether or not Koike is going to have a similar effect.
Meanwhile, time to cast an eye over the nominees and hit the hustings...we're in for an interesting twelve days.
From the Asahi Shimbun, online; 1180 candidates across eight parties and a selection of independents
LDP: 332; Kibo 235; Komei 53; JCP 243; Constitutional Dems 78; Ishin 52; Shamin 21; Kokoro 2; Ind (1) 91; Ind (2) 73
There are 289 single member electorates, with 936 candidates nominated
There are 176 seats in the proportional lists where 855 are nominated but note that a candidate can be nominated for a single member electorate and a 'safety net' option on the party proportional list...hence the 1180 is calculated by adding the 936 single member electorates to those only nominated on the proportional list (855-611=244+936=1180)
The simple majority in this parliament will be 233 seats, and 310 seats will be required for a two-thirds majority (required for constitutional reform, for example). In the last few years, seats in Japan's parliament are being reduced as part of ongoing reforms. At the last election there were 475 seats, from a peak of 512 a few years ago.