By Keiko Takahashi, Hiroyuki Asahi
With by-elections for the House of Representatives 10th district of Tokyo and 6th district of Fukuoka scheduled to take place in October, both ruling and opposition parties are making earnest efforts to field their candidates. The key issue is whether the opposition parties will be able to field common candidates, as they did in the House of Councillors and Tokyo gubernatorial elections. With their candidates putting up a good fight in the Lower House by-election in the fifth district of Hokkaido last April, this issue is likely to affect their strategy for the next Lower House election.
Voting for the two by-elections will take place on Oct. 23. The 10th district of Tokyo is electing a replacement for the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) Yuriko Koike, who automatically lost her seat by running in the Tokyo gubernatorial race, while the 6th district of Fukuoka will be electing a replacement for the LDP’s Kunio Hatoyama, who died recently. These elections are expected to take place while the extraordinary Diet session is in session, so the outcome is likely to affect management of the administration.
The LDP has not decided on its candidates in both constituencies. However, a source in the party observed that, “If the opposition parties form a united front again, this will constitute a considerable threat. We will make utmost efforts,” expressing alarm at this early stage. This is because if the opposition united front succeeds in the by-elections this fall, these parties are likely to work together again in the next Lower House election. Since the united front succeeded to a certain extent in the single-seat districts in the recent Upper House election, another success will affect future campaigns in the Lower House single-seat districts. The ruling parties would like to win a landslide victory in both by-elections this fall, in order to deter the opposition united front.
The Democratic Party (DP) and the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) have already unofficially decided on their candidates for the 10th district of Tokyo and the DP has a candidate in mind for the 6th district of Fukuoka. The key question is if the DP, the JCP, the Social Democratic Party, and the People’s Life Party can agree on a common candidate. These four parties have agreed to “cooperate as much as possible” in the single-seat districts in the next Lower House election.
However, DP Secretary General Yukio Edano said in a news conference on July 19 that “the scope of ‘cooperating as much as possible’ will be on a case-by-case basis. We have not even decided on whether to talk (with the JCP).”
Edano avoided making a clear commitment because it was necessary to give consideration to conservatives in the DP who are against the united front with the JCP. This issue is also expected to become a sticking point when the party elects its leader in September, so Edano had to be careful.
Meanwhile, JCP General Secretary Akira Koike stated in his news conference on July 19: “We were able to field common candidates in the Upper House and Tokyo gubernatorial elections. We would also like to campaign under this framework in the by-elections.”