Sunday, October 2, 2022

NHK exit poll: Japanese Prime Minister Kishida’s coalition retains majority

TOKYO (NWN) – Japan’s public television NHK exit polls predict that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s ruling coalition will maintain a majority in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, although it is expected to lose some seats.

According to NHK, the Kishida Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner Komeito were to win between 239 and 288 seats in the 465-member lower house, the more powerful of Japan’s bicameral parliament.

Their combined seats will surpass most of the 233 seats, but will lose ground from the 305 seats previously due to setbacks for the previous Kishida administration, which could affect his long-term power.

Kishida, who was elected prime minister on October 4 after winning the race for leadership in his ruling party, dismissed the lower house just 10 days after taking office.

THIS IS A MAJOR UPDATE. An earlier history of NWN follows below.

Japanese voters vote in national elections on Sunday, the first major test for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to determine if he has a big enough mandate to tackle the coronavirus-stricken economy, rapidly aging and shrinking population, and security concerns from China. and the North. Korea.

The 465 seats in the lower house, the more influential of the bicameral Japanese Seimas, or in parliament are being examined.

The ruling Kishida Liberal Democratic Party is expected to lose some seats from the pre-election level, but retain a comfortable majority alongside its junior coalition partner Komeito.

Kishida, 64, was elected prime minister on October 4 after winning the race for leadership in his ruling party, as his conservative leaders saw him as a reliable successor to the status quo of Yoshihide Sugi and his influential predecessor Shinzo Abe.

Kishida’s immediate challenge was to garner support from the party weakened by Suga’s arbitrary approach to tackling the pandemic and his insistence on hosting the Tokyo Summer Olympics despite widespread opposition.

Kishida dismissed the lower house just 10 days after taking office, calling for these elections and stating that he wants to get a mandate from voters for his new government before starting work.

Some experts believe that the short 17-day interval between the dissolution of the lower house and the vote, following the LDP’s media-dominated race for leadership, unfairly gave Kishida’s party an edge over the opposition.

Kishida’s long-term control of power will depend on how good his election results are.

Kishida has repeatedly emphasized his determination to listen to the people and resist criticism that Abe-Sugi’s nine-year leadership has caused corruption, tamed bureaucrats and silenced opposing opinions.

The campaign is mainly focused on the COVID-19 response and economic recovery.

While the ruling Kishida party stressed the importance of having a stronger military amid fears of China’s growing influence and North Korea’s missile and nuclear threat, opposition parties focused on diversity and the pursuit of gender equality.

Opposition leaders complain that recent LDP governments have widened the gap between rich and poor, failed to support the economy during the pandemic, and halted initiatives for gender equality and diversity. This year, Japan was ranked 120th in the World Economic Forum’s ranking of the gender gap among 156 countries.

Kishida has set a modest goal for the LDP and its coalition partner Komeito. He wants to jointly maintain their majority of 233 seats in the 465-member lower house. This is a low bar, given that before the elections, the LDP alone had 276 seats. A big drop, even if the party maintains its majority, would be a bad start for the Kishida administration, which has lasted several weeks.

Media polls indicate that the LDP is likely to lose seats, in part because five opposition parties have formed a united front to unite candidates in many small constituencies and are expected to take positions there.

If, as many predict, the ruling coalition gains 261 seats, they can control all parliamentary committees and easily push through any controversial legislation.

Most results are expected by early Monday.

The opposition has long fought to get enough votes to form a government after the brief reign of the now defunct center-left Democratic Party of Japan in 2009-2012, as they failed to demonstrate a great vision for Japan.

On the economic front, Kishida is focusing on income-driven growth, while opposition groups are focusing more on wealth redistribution and calling for cash payments to low-income families affected by the pandemic.

Kishida, in his closing speech on Saturday in Tokyo, pledged to stimulate growth and “distribute its fruits” to people as income. “It’s up to you who can do it responsibly.”

The LDP opposes legislation guaranteeing equality for sexual minorities and allowing separate family names for married couples.

Of the 1,051 candidates, only 17% are women, despite the 2018 law promoting gender equality in elections, which is toothless as it does not provide for punishment. Women make up about 10% of parliament, what gender rights experts call a “democracy without women”.

Voters, including young couples with young children, began arriving at polling stations in central Tokyo in the early hours of the morning.

Shinji Asada, 44, said he compared COVID-19 measures to select a candidate, hoping for a change of leadership, as he believed the ruling party lacked clarity and transparency about its response to the pandemic. He said that despite Kishida’s promise to be more attentive to people’s voices, “I thought (under him) nothing would change after seeing his cabinet,” whose posts mostly went to the party factions that voted for him.

Kana Kasai, a 50-year-old part-time worker, said she voted for someone she thought would “work her fingers to the bone” for a better future.

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Associated Press journalist Chisato Tanaka contributed to this report.

Nation World News Desk
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