The Tokyo chapter of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) held a party at a hotel in Tokyo on April 11 that was a de facto rally for solidarity in the Metropolitan Assembly election (official start of campaigning on June 23 and voting on July 2). The participants confirmed the unity of the party in opposing the regional party Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites First) led by Governor Yuriko Koike, who is tremendously popular.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party (DP) is scrambling to get back on its feet in light of the resignation of former state minister of defense Akihisa Nagashima from the party. Nagashima is the secretary general of its Tokyo chapter.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (LDP president) issued a call at the gathering on April 11 for all party members to exert efforts to hold mini-meetings, deliver speeches on street corners, and “make the windmills turn through our own efforts for the very reason that we are facing adverse winds in the Metropolitan Assembly election.”
Opinion polls by the media outlets show that many LDP supporters are supporting Koike in this election. Therefore, the party is “giving priority to consolidating traditional supporters,” according to a senior party official.
The LDP also invited Koike and Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of its coalition partner Komeito, to the party but both declined to attend. Komeito, which is aiming at the election of all its 23 candidates, has agreed to cooperate with Tomin First in this election, thereby positioning itself as the LDP’s adversary.
The LDP has designated 58 official candidates so far and plans to add more in order to field candidates in all constituencies. On the other hand, Tomin First has also named 25 candidates and intends to field candidates in all electoral districts as well, aiming to win a majority of seats by Koike supporters.
The outcome in the single-seat or two-seat constituencies will be critical in this election. The LDP was able to get all its 59 candidates elected in the last election thanks to Komeito’s endorsement in the single-seat constituencies. However, Komeito is endorsing Tomin First candidates this time, so the LDP is expected to face an uphill battle.
Meanwhile, the DP held an emergency executive meeting of its Tokyo chapter at the party headquarters on April 11. The Tokyo chapter decided to ask the party’s ethics committee not to accept Nagashima’s resignation but to punish him with expulsion instead. With 7 of its 36 designated official candidates already leaving the party, the DP would like to stop further defections. There is also concern that the party may be “completely eclipsed by the clash between the LDP and Koike,” according to a senior DP official. (Slightly abridged)