(Asahi: April 14, 2015 – p. 3)
As part of the first round of the unified local elections, 41 prefectural assembly elections were held on April 12. The results of the elections have made it clear what issues political parties should address from now on. Although the ruling Liberal Democratic Party garnered a majority of all seats, the voter turnout for those elections was lower than 40%. Meantime, the largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan was overshadowed by the regional political group, Osaka Ishin no Kai (Osaka Restoration Association), which secured “non-LDP votes” and the Japanese Communist Party, which obtained “anti-LDP votes.” As a result, the DPJ’s ability to clarify its nature will be tested.
“This outcome represents the voice of people who want us to spread the fruits of Abenomics [or the economic policy mix promoted by the Abe administration] to provincial areas,” LDP Secretary General Sadakazu Tanigaki proudly said at an LDP executive meeting on April 13. The LDP became the largest party in 40 of the nation’s 41 prefectural assemblies, except Osaka Prefecture. The ratio of LDP members exceeded a majority of all prefectural assembly seats for the first time in 24 years, reaching 50.48%.
As far as the number of seats the LDP won is concerned, the LDP appear to have regained confidence from more than half of the public. However, the ratio of votes the LDP candidates received was 39.45% of the votes all candidates received, failing to reach 40%. The party won 46.8% in the nationwide local elections in 1991. Therefore, the LDP has apparently declined in its “regional clout.”
The LDP has been making efforts to repair and strengthen its relations with the business community and its organizations in its campaigning for the latest local elections. In addition to the poor performances of opposition parties, the average voter turnout for the assembly elections in the 41 prefectures marked a postwar low of 45.05%. “The low voter turnout gave overwhelming advantages to political parties such as the LDP, Komeito, and the Japanese Communist Party that are firmly supported by organizations,” Shigefumi Matsuzawa, secretary general of the Party for Future Generations, said.
All candidates of the Komeito party, which had been increasingly alarmed about the possibility that some of its candidates would be defeated, have now been elected. (Slightly abridged)