Abenomics helped LDP, Komeito score huge victory in Tokyo poll
The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been given a significant boost. It remains to be seen whether the voters’ verdict this time will affect the outcome of next month’s House of Councillors election.
In the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election on Sunday, all of the Liberal Democratic Party’s candidates were elected, and the LDP regained its status as the largest party in the assembly. The LDP’s coalition partner, New Komeito, also succeeded in having all of its candidates elected, and it took over as the second-largest force.
The LDP and Komeito, which form the ruling coalition, threw their support behind Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose and together far exceeded a majority of seats in the 127-seat assembly. The metropolitan government will certainly gain stability.
As there were few contentious issues on how to steer the administration of the metropolitan government, the assembly election, the first major electoral contest since the second Abe Cabinet was launched in December, focused mainly on the public’s evaluation of Abenomics, the Abe administration’s handling of economic policies.
Given the landslide victory of both the LDP and Komeito, it can safely be said the Abe administration’s key policies and its government management received a favorable rating from Tokyo voters.
However, there have been a number of recent cases in which candidates backed by the LDP have lost to incumbents in local contests, including the June 16 gubernatorial election in Shizuoka Prefecture.
Commenting on the results of the Tokyo assembly election, Abe told reporters, “What we need now is to brace ourselves by deepening our sense of humility.”
The DPJ, which became the largest party after the previous Tokyo assembly election in 2009, suffered a shattering defeat, plunging to fourth position in the assembly. This appears to reflect the deep-rooted distrust of voters after the party committed a number of serious blunders over the handling of national politics. It is evident that the party has failed to stop its decline in strength.
In its latest electoral campaign, the DPJ stressed the negative aspects of Abenomics by taking note of the current erratic fluctuations of stock prices and exchange rates. The party’s unyielding reproach against the government without offering counterproposals apparently failed to satisfy the electorate.
In the upcoming upper house race, the DPJ should have in-depth policy discussions with the LDP by presenting specific policy measures that offer an alternative to government policies.
Despite fielding a large number of candidates in the Tokyo assembly race, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) fared extremely poorly. This was probably due to remarks by the party’s coleader Toru Hashimoto regarding the issue of so-called comfort women.
During the campaign, former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, the other party coleader, complained about Hashimoto. In response, Hashimoto hinted he might step down from the party’s top post depending on the outcome of the Tokyo contest.
It should be noted that Tokyo is Ishihara’s hometown. The disastrous defeat of Ishin no Kai should be attributed partly to the dwindling influence of Ishihara over Tokyo voters.
Link with upper house race
Your Party, which withdrew from an electoral cooperation accord with Ishin no Kai because of the Hashimoto remarks on the comfort women issue, did remarkably well considering it fought the election single-handedly. The party seems to have obtained some degree of support from floating voters who are averse to the LDP and the DPJ.
The Japanese Communist Party doubled its seats in the Tokyo assembly to become the third-largest party in the assembly. This may be due to the low turnout compared with the previous Tokyo assembly election as well as its solid support base on the strength of its organizational skills.
Attention is now focused on how the respective parties’ vote-garnering capabilities that have been demonstrated in the Tokyo race may affect the electoral landscape for the July upper house election.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 24, 2013)