(Nikkei: April 27, 2015 – p. 2)
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party secured solid support also in the second round of the unified local elections on April 26 as it did in the first round of the nationwide local elections. The LDP views that it was able to solidify its political footing for the second half of the current Diet session, in which the top priority will be focused on security legislation. The largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan, however, must rethink its strategy.
All candidates backed by the LDP and Komeito won in the 10 gubernatorial elections in the first round of the unified local elections, winning a majority of seats up for reelection in prefectural assemblies for the first time in 24 years. Also in the second round of the unified elections, the
LDP garnered more seats than that in the previous elections in 2011. The party has judged that it was able to gain support to a certain extent also in the regional areas, where economic recovery is slow.
The LDP believes it has steady support even in smaller cities, where economic recovery has been slower. The latest results “further strengthened the LDP’s regional bases,” said Election Strategy Committee Director General Toshimitsu Motegi.
The ruling coalition hopes to start Diet deliberations on bills related to national security, which is the major focal point, on May 19 at the earliest. Although Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s term as LDP president will expire in September, he is expected to be reelected since there are no candidates to vie with him.
However, the atmosphere in the LDP is far from festive. The party’s candidates were defeated in Tokyo’s Setagaya and Shibuya wards. And voter turnout remained low, harming the legitimacy of democracy. About 30% of the mayoral elections were uncontested. The LDP leadership faces the urgent tasks of preparing for the next Upper House election and pushing through key policy changes including resumption of nuclear plants. (Abridged)