The results of Sunday’s general election indicated that while candidates from “traditional” political families did well, some legislators whose names were relatively well-known were unable to return to the Lower House.
The nephew of Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa, Yoichi Miyazawa, appeared victorious in the Hiroshima No. 7 constituency running for the Liberal Democratic Party.
Exit polls showed that he handily beat his rivals, including newcomer Toshimasa Yamada, who was fielded by the Democratic Party of Japan.
Although an LDP member of the prefectural assembly initially showed interest in running in the race, Miyazawa was able to bring conservative forces within the electoral district under his wing.
In the Saitama No. 13 constituency, Shinako Tsuchiya, running for the minor Mushozoku-no-kai party, kept her seat.
Her father, Yoshihiko Tsuchiya, the incumbent governor of Saitama Prefecture, also won re-election Sunday. The elder Tsuchiya, a member of the LDP, once served as president of the Diet’s Upper House.
former Finance Minister Masayoshi Takemura, who was running as an independent, lost his seat in the Shiga No. 2 constituency to newcomer Akira Konishi of the LDP, exit polls showed.
Takemura severed ties with the LDP and formed New Party Sakigake in 1993. The party went on to become one of the eight political groups that formed the coalition government of then Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, which wrested power from the LDP for the first time since 1955.
But Sakigake never became very large, later losing many of its members to the Democratic Party of Japan. This caused Takemura to campaign as an independent, with his loss signifying the defacto disappearance of Sakigake.
Meanwhile, early returns indicate that former Home Affairs Minister Katsuhiko Shirakawa will suffer defeat in the Niigata No. 6 constituency.
Shirakawa, 55, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, was expected to lose to Nobutaka Tsutsui of the DPJ.
Shirakawa is also an LDP candidate for the Hokuriku-Shinetsu proportional representation bloc, but he is low on the LDP’s list and is therefore considered unlikely to return to the Lower House.
Shirakawa was a vocal op ponent of New Komeito’s presence in the tripartite coalition because he said the party runs counter to the Con stitution’s separation of politics and religion due to its backing by the nation’s largest lay Buddhist organization, Soka Gakkai.
One of his private secretaries was earlier indicted on charges of receiving a 30,000 gift certificate for acting as a go-between in an alleged coverup involving the Niigata Prefectural Police, and it appears this scandal weighed heavily on the minds of some voters.
The LDP’s Seisuke Okuno, the oldest of the 1,404 candidates running in the election at 83, was assured victory in the Nara No. 3 constituency, defeating three challengers fielded by the DPJ, the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party.
The win assures Okuno of his 13th term since he was first elected to the chamber in 1963.
With his rivals ranging in age from 28 to 44, rejuvenated politics emerged as a point of debate during campaigning in the electoral district.
The veteran politician, however, appeared to have gained an advantage thanks to solid support from conservative voters.
Former Defense Agency chief Keisuke Nakanishi, 59, lost his seat in Wakayama No. 1 constituency to a 33-year-old former member of the Wakayama Prefectural Assembly.
Tatsuya Tanimoto, an independent candidate who ran with support from the LDP’s local chapter, defeated the veteran politician, a member of the New Conservative Party who was supported by the LDP headquarters.
The LDP’s Wakayama chapter backed Tanimoto in protest against what it described as “Nagatacho’s (Tokyo’s political center) decision behind closed doors” to support Nakanishi, a candidate fielded by the LDP’s coalition ally.
Also expected to lose in a single-seat constituency was Hajime Funada, LDP member and former chief of the Economic Planning Agency. The 46-year-old was expected to lose his seat in Tochigi Prefecture’s No. 1 constituency to the DPJ’s Hiroko Mizushima.
However, he may still find a place in the Lower House as he is also listed in the LDP’s proportional representation list for the northern Kanto bloc.
Funada stirred controversy by allegedly having an affair with Kei Hata, 38, a House of Councilors member and former announcer for NHK before divorcing his previous wife in March 1998. He married Hata in May last year.