Power PLD in Japan on track to win parliamentary elections
Fumio Kishida led the Liberal Democrats to victory in the general election in Japan despite a backlash against the ruling party’s grip that caused its biggest political setback in more than a decade.
The LDP was on track Sunday evening to retain majority control of the lower house of the Diet, according to the public broadcaster NHK, sparing the new prime minister a humiliation that would have jeopardized his leadership.
The races for many party figures were extremely close, a measure of voter frustration after nearly a decade of LDP rule. Akira Amari, secretary general of the party and architect of Japan’s new “economic security” strategy, was on the way to losing his seat in his constituency, according to the first votes.
At half past midnight, the NHK said the PLD had won 246 seats, up from 276 before the election, allowing it to retain single-party control of the 465 seats in the lower house. Coalition partner Komeito won 27 seats, compared to 29.
The biggest winner was the center-right Japanese Innovation Party, which more than tripled its representation to 34 seats after a campaign focused on promoting regulatory reform.
In talks with Japanese media on Sunday, Kishida stressed that his ruling coalition was certain to retain its majority, a low target set for parliamentary elections.
“I think we got a valuable mandate” from the public, he said. “Regarding the LDP having lost seats, we have to assess and take the result seriously. ”
Despite weak popular appeal, Kishida won the LDP leadership race at the end of September by promising stability and appealing to powerful factions and party figures, including former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
He dissolved the lower house shortly after being appointed prime minister this month, betting on an early electoral victory to advance his economic and national security initiatives.
“He adopted a strategy that was necessary to become prime minister by establishing friendly ties with Abe. But now he’ll focus on bringing out his own colors, ”said Meiko Nakabayashi, professor at Waseda University.
Many Japanese have sought a clean break after nearly nine years under Abe and his unpopular successor Yoshihide Suga.
But Kishida’s decision to appoint veterans like Amari to influential roles in government was sanctioned by voters. It has also failed to project the promised new image as it seeks to revive an economy bogged down by deflation that recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I wanted to change the one-party dictatorship of the PLD,” said Yoshifumi Uchiyama, after voting for the People’s Democratic Party, a small opposition party, at a polling station in Chiba. The financial services industry worker, 31, voted LDP in the last election.
“Kishida seems like a nice person but basically nothing has changed,” said a 74-year-old housewife at a polling station near Tokyo Bay.
The PLD, along with its coalition partner Komeito, have dominated the polls since Abe led the party to a resounding victory in 2012, raising hopes of an economic recovery and ending the revolving door of prime ministers.
In that election, however, Japan’s long-fragmented opposition camp demonstrated a greater sense of unity in an effort to capitalize on the frustration that has built up over the long-standing grip. of the PLD on power.
All five opposition parties fielded a single candidate in 213 of the 289 single-member single-member constituencies. As a result, only 1,051 candidates – the lowest on record – contested the lower house, including proportional representation votes.
Yet Masato Kamikubo, professor of political science at Ritsumeikan University, criticized the opposition for focusing too much on organizing unified candidates without having meaningful political discussions.
Kishida is now expected to travel to the UK to make his global debut at the COP26 climate summit, where he will explain how Japan will meet its carbon emissions targets by 2030 and 2050.
He also emphasized strengthening Japan’s economic security and defense measures given a more assertive China.
But Kishida has yet to explain how he will break with his predecessors to create a “new form of capitalism” and finance his economic measures to obtain wage increases for all.
Additional reporting by Nobuko Juji in Chiba