JAPAN: Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) retained a comfortable majority in the Lower House election on Sunday, winning 259 seats and securing a satisfactory outcome for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in his first major test as leader.
Together with coalition ally Komeito’s 32 seats, the ruling bloc clinched 291 seats — less than the 305 seats it had before the election but still enough to pass bills smoothly in the House of Representatives.
The LDP-Komeito coalition secured an “absolute stable majority” of 261 seats, which gives them authority to chair all standing committees and allows ruling coalition lawmakers to make up the majority of the members on those committees.
Voter turnout was estimated to be around 56%, the third lowest turnout in the postwar era.
It wasn’t all good news for the ruling bloc, however. LDP Secretary-General Akira Amari lost his Kanagawa No. 13 electoral district seat to a Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) candidate — the first time the party’s secretary-general has ever lost a constituency seat. Amari ultimately returns to the Lower House due to his proportional representation ranking, but he told Kishida he was prepared to step down from the party’s No. 2 post.
In another upset, party veteran Nobuteru Ishihara lost in the Tokyo No. 8 district, where he was defeated by a unified candidate backed by the opposition.
Nonetheless, Kishida stressed that the ruling coalition had earned a mandate from the public.“Lower House elections are always elections to choose a governing party,” Kishida told NHK. “If the ruling coalition has ensured a majority, I would take it as a vote of confidence.”
Still, he acknowledged unified opposition candidates posed challenges for LDP candidates in single-seat constituencies.
Meanwhile, it wasn’t a happy night for the CDP, which saw its seats fall to 96 from a pre-election strength of 109.
A notable change in this election is the remarkable rise of right-leaning Nippon Ishin no Kai as a “third pole,” with the group becoming a favorite pick for voters dissatisfied with both the ruling coalition and left-leaning opposition parties. Nippon Ishin won 41 seats, an almost fourfold increase from its tally before the election, which was 11. The party, which originated in Osaka and is run by Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui, apparently gave a strong showing in the western prefecture.
The party fielded 94 candidates nationwide, an increase of more than 40 compared with the last general election in 2017. – THE JAPAN TIMES