Japan election result: Clear mandate for PM Kishida

Japan election result: Clear mandate for PM Kishida

Kanako Mita, Sawako Utsumi, and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Liberal Democratic Party (LPD) was fearing its strongest opposition challenge since 2009. However, despite having three leaders of the ruling LDP in the last 13 months, the party won the endorsement of the Japanese electorate by a sizeable margin.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida understood the task ahead when he recently became the leader of the LDP. He knew that disenchantment concerning the longevity of the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis was weighing heavily on the LDP. Therefore, his promise of greater equal distribution of wealth hit the right chord for many voters.

The LDP won 261 seats compared with 276 in the last election. However, in light of internal political convulsions and the impact of the coronavirus, this is a remarkable number for Kishida.

The BBC reports, “The LDP has now scored 261 seats, exceeding the parliamentary majority of 233 seats. With Komeito scoring 32 seats, it gives their coalition a total of 293 seats.”

Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) more than trebled its number of seats to 41. Henceforth, this regional Osaka-based party seeks to continue its political appeal throughout the country. Indeed, in Osaka, the LDP became an irrelevance in terms of seats compared with Nippon Ishin no Kai.

Ironically, despite the LDP being a conservative party – even if Kishida is known to be on the liberal side of the LDP – the Nippon Ishin no Kai is even more conservative in many areas. For example, this Osaka-based political movement supports historical revisionism (similar to extremes within the LDP) and neoliberalism. Therefore, Kishida is more liberal than this right-wing political movement.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, despite huffing and puffing, failed to make the inroads that should have been obtainable given the internal political convulsions of the LDP. Yet, with everything in its favor, this party remains the static second party in Japan.

Hopefully, conservatives within the LDP will now be weakened by the mandate won by Kishida. If so, Kishida can focus on his promise of targeting wealth inequality in Japan. Therefore, time will tell if Kishida is sincere – or if conservatives will continue to have the upper hand.

Kishida said, “With this definite support from the people, I will dedicate myself to working on policies and parliamentary efforts.”

The low voter turnout helped Kishida to maintain LDP control over the power mechanisms of Japan. Hence, Modern Tokyo Times highlighted that a high turnout occurred when the opposition won in 2009. However, in the last two elections (prior to yesterday) that Shinzo Abe won, he gained from the low turnouts – similar to Kishida who won yesterday with a low turnout. Therefore, opposition parties, especially the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, need to connect with apathetic voters.

After all, the LDP can rely on their core voters to support them decade after decade.

It is hoped that Kishida can usher in a fairer Japan rather than economic policies under Junichiro Koizumi and the more influential Shinzo Abe. Similarly, it is hoped that the petty nationalism under Yoshihide Suga will be contained and replaced by a more pragmatic approach towards China and the Russian Federation.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-59110828

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