• SHARE

Political leaders pulled out all stops Saturday in campaigning for today’s Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, which will give the first indication of whether Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s popularity will bolster his Liberal Democratic Party.

With the House of Councilors election due in just five weeks, election strategists from the ruling and opposition camps are viewing the Tokyo poll — the biggest in Japan with close to 10 million eligible voters — as the bellwether for the July 29 Upper House election.

Koizumi, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, made a last campaign pitch after returning to Tokyo in the late afternoon from a day trip to Okinawa.

LDP strategists hope that Koizumi, who enjoys record-high support ratings nationwide, will translate his popularity into votes for LDP candidates. The Tokyo election will be Koizumi’s first test at the polls since he became prime minister April 26. Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka, who is known for connecting with voters, was also mobilized to speak on behalf of LDP candidates.

Democratic Party of Japan chief Yukio Hatoyama hit the streets in Tokyo to criticize Koizumi’s “ambiguous” reforms and canvass support for his party.

Top party leaders from the Japanese Communist Party, New Komeito, the Social Democratic Party and the Liberal Party also stumped on behalf of their party candidates.

Street campaigning ended at 8 p.m. Saturday and the polls open at 7 a.m. today.

Voting will close at 8 p.m. The general makeup of the assembly is expected to be known at around midnight, with results finalized around 1 a.m. Monday.

The LDP, which currently holds 48 seats in the assembly, is fielding 55 candidates, while the JCP, which holds 26 seats, is fielding 44. New Komeito, which has 23 seats, is fielding the same number of candidates.

The DPJ, which currently holds 13 seats, is fielding 33 candidates, while the SDP, which now holds just one seat, is putting up six candidates.

The Tokyo Seikatsusha Network, a local party holding three seats, will field six candidates, while the Liberal Party, formed in January 1998, is fielding 13.

In addition, 63 candidates are either contesting the election as independents or are from minor parties.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.

SUBSCRIBE NOW