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LDP on edge over three Diet seat elections in April

  • March 25, 2021
  • , Nikkei , p. 4
  • JMH Translation

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is on edge over the three Diet seat elections scheduled for April. It expects them all to be tight races. Data from past elections supports the party’s concerns, as it indicates that LDP candidates generally struggle in elections held after the resignation of an LDP or LDP-affiliated member due to money scandals and in elections held to fill a seat vacant due to the death of an opposition party incumbent.


On April 25, a Lower House by-election will be held for Hokkaido’s district no. 2, an Upper House by-election will be held in Nagano, and a recall election will be held in Hiroshima for an Upper House seat. The Hokkaido election is being held to replace an LDP member who resigned, and the Hiroshima election will fill a seat now vacant due to the cancellation of the LDP candidate’s election victory. Nagano will be seeking a replacement for the late Yuichiro Hata, former Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, who was a member of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.


Since October 2000, 47 by-elections have been held and no recall elections have been held.


The vacancies since October 2000 resulted from [a] death (in 18 cases), [b] resignation and loss of seat due to a scandal (13), [c] candidate running for the office of head of local government (12), and [d] candidate switching from the Upper to Lower House (4).


Dividing the candidates in those elections into two groups, “LDP and Komeito (plus Independents after the split in the conservatives)” and “others,” it is evident that there is a trend that candidates who belong to the same group as the former seat holder who left due to a scandal have difficulty winning the election. If “loss by default” is included, the ratio of wins to losses is five to eight, meaning that less than 40% were elected.


The April elections in Hokkaido district no. 2 and in Hiroshima are in this category. The LDP does not plan to endorse a candidate in Hokkaido, however, virtually assuring “loss by default.”


The data shows a different trend for elections held after the death of the incumbent. In the elections held since October 2000, candidates from the late legislator’s group won 15 of 18 elections (80%). In such elections, the candidate can appeal to voters by presenting himself/herself as the successor of the late member. The Upper House election in Nagano falls in this category for the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, and the late Hata’s brother is running in that election and will highlight that aspect.


No clear trend was observed in elections held after the incumbent left office to run for the head position at a local government or to seek a seat in the other House. In such cases, the candidate who belonged to the same group as the incumbent won 50% of such elections. (Abridged)


Past data suggests April elections will be difficult for LDP

Reason for vacancy

Seat retained

Seat lost

% of elections won

Death of incumbent 




Resignation due to scandal




Running for head of local government




Switch to Lower House seat





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