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LDP worried about losing two Lower House by-elections in October

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is seriously concerned about the House of Representatives by-elections in the fourth district of Aomori and the third district of Ehime to be held on Oct. 22. The two elections are being held due to the death of the respective incumbent Diet members, and the Abe administration will suffer serious damage if the LDP loses either of the elections. Some party members are even saying that rather than being forced into a corner gradually, it is better for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to dissolve the Lower House for a general election.

 

The LDP suffered a historic defeat in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election in July, and this even affected the Sendai mayoral election, which also took place in July, resulting in the loss by the candidate backed by the ruling parties. The Ibaraki gubernatorial election on Aug. 27 will be a contest between two conservatives, the incumbent governor and a rookie endorsed by the ruling parties, so the outcome will be unpredictable. The LDP has been treading a thorny path in the run-up to the two by-elections.

 

Taro Kimura, the incumbent Lower House member for the fourth district of Aomori, died in late July. The LDP is in the process of selecting a candidate based on the wishes of his family.

 

In the third district of Ehime, the LDP is fielding the second son of Toru Shiraishi, who has passed away. However, this constituency is adjacent to the second district, which includes Imabari City, currently in the headlines in relation to the Kake Gakuen scandal. The opposition may possibly field the previous Lower House member who won in the 2009 election as the candidate of the former Democratic Party of Japan.

 

LDP members are saying: “While we are good at tomurai gassen [elections held after an incumbent dies and in which the party often fields relatives or close associates of the deceased lawmaker, a move which tends to win sympathy votes], we are still fighting an uphill battle.” Others lament that “if we lose even one of these elections, it will amount to a defeat.”

 

An LDP source pointed out: “If we can’t win both by-elections, it’s better to dissolve the Lower House at the start of the extraordinary Diet session this fall.” A mid-ranking lawmaker also said: “If the Democratic Party’s support rating does not improve after its presidential race, the Prime Minister may think about dissolving the Diet.” (Abridged)

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