In Sunday’s election, the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, the LDP’s junior partner in the national Diet, succeeded in getting all their candidates — 59 and 23, respectively — elected and now control the 127-seat Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s strategy of selling his economic policy generally succeeded in getting the support of many Tokyoites.
In the past, the assembly election results often served as a precursor of a national election afterward. An Upper House election is scheduled July 21, but predicting that outcome is difficult.
Ordinary citizens and local economies have not felt the benefits of Mr. Abe’s economic policy. Rural areas strongly oppose Japan’s entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade scheme, and many people oppose the restart of nuclear power plants and the idea of weakening the constitutional procedure designed to prevent imprudent revisions of the Constitution, all pushed by Mr. Abe.
Sunday’s election results showed Tokyo voters’ deep distrust of the Democratic Party of Japan, which used to run the central government and was the No. 1 party in the assembly. It tumbled to the No. 4 position in Sunday’s election, getting only 15 seats. The LDP was helped to some extent by the DPJ’s unpopularity.
Voter turnout this time was 43.50 percent, more than 10 points lower than the 54.49 percent registered in the previous election, and the second lowest in history. The very likely reason for this low voter turnout is that the DPJ failed to present campaign promises that were aimed at meeting the needs of voters and clearly distinguishable from the LDP’s promises. Just criticizing the LDP will not work. The DPJ must hone its campaign strategy and promises in preparation for the coming Upper House election. It must make convincing arguments in the Upper House election campaign concerning the TPP, the constitutional revision issue and nuclear power generation.
While the DPJ, which won 54 seats in the previous election, suffered a great setback, the Japan Communist Party’s advance was remarkable. It more than doubled the number of its seats from the pre-election eight to 17. Apparently the party’s clear opposition to the restart of nuclear power plants and the LDP’s call for a constitutional revision attracted many voters. While Your Party’s strength increased from one seat to seven, the Japan Restoration Party dropped from three seats to two. It seems that JRP co-leader Mr. Toru Hashimoto’s statement that the Imperial Japanese armed forces’ sex slave system was necessary rankled many voters.
The newly composed Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly must tackle pressing issues in earnest, including improving day-care services for the elderly as well as young children, energy conservation and preparations for the massive earthquake that’s expected to strike Tokyo. It should not waste any time.