National

DPJ looks set to win more seats than ruling LDP, survey shows

The Democratic Party of Japan is expected to make great strides in the House of Councilors election on July 11 and looks set to top the list of parties in the proportional representation section, according to a new survey.

The findings from the Kyodo News random telephone survey of voters nationwide and projection analyses of district-level and proportional representation seats revealed a neck-and-neck race between the DPJ and the Liberal Democratic Party, with the DPJ getting enough of a nod to eclipse the LDP’s target of 51 seats.

The survey was conducted Thursday through Saturday on 59,828 households with eligible voters. Of these, 43,605 voters responded, with about 40 percent saying they are undecided on who they will vote for.

According to the survey, the DPJ is set to grab more seats than its 38 that are up for re-election. DPJ President Katsuya Okada has expressed hope that the party will win at least 50 of the seats in contention.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who heads the LDP, has set a moderate target of 51 seats for his party, the same number it had until one member left the Upper House in April to run in a House of Representatives by-election.

According to the survey findings, the LDP candidates in half of the 27 single-seat districts are either trailing or are neck and neck with candidates endorsed or backed by the DPJ or independents.

The odds also appear to favor the DPJ in the proportional representation section, as the survey found that LDP seats could possibly drop again to the record party low of 14 in 1998, while the DPJ is expected to secure 20 seats.

Meanwhile, New Komeito, the LDP’s coalition party, is expected to retain all 10 of its seats at stake.

The prospects are bleak for the minor opposition parties, with the Japanese Communist Party likely to end up with less than its 15 seats up for grabs and the Social Democratic Party seeing its power continue to wane.

The findings indicate the DPJ is leading in the Aomori, Iwate and Okinawa districts, is strong in places such as Yamanashi, Shiga, Okayama and Oita, and is in a close fight in places such as Mie, Kagawa, Kochi, and Nagasaki.

The survey found the DPJ is likely to share a seat with the LDP in two-seat districts and secure two seats in the three-seat districts of Kanagawa and Aichi and four-seat district of Tokyo.

The LDP, on the other hand, is trying to build up its following in the one-seat districts of Toyama, Ishikawa, Tottori, Shimane and Kagoshima, among other places, but is apparently being pressed by the DPJ in Yamagata, seen as an LDP stronghold.

In the 20 multiseat districts, the LDP is setting its eyes on securing one seat each. In the proportional representation sector, the party is banking on the popularity of economic and fiscal policy minister Heizo Takenaka, but its plan to use Takenaka’s high profile to attract votes is not going as well as hoped.

New Komeito has a grip in the Saitama, Tokyo and Osaka districts and is targeting eight seats under proportional representation, its pre-election strength.

The JCP is expected to win four seats under proportional representation, as in the previous election, but may not win any seat in a district, while the SDP is struggling to hold on to its two seats.

In addition, former Tokyo Gov. Yukio Aoshima and scandal-tainted former House of Representatives lawmakers Muneo Suzuki and Kiyomi Tsujimoto are putting up a good fight. Aoshima is running in Tokyo, Suzuki in Hokkaido and Tsujimoto in Osaka.

The number of seats in the Upper House is being trimmed by five to 242, putting the number of seats up for grabs at 121. Half of the chamber’s seats are contested every three years.

The election will see 320 candidates run for 73 seats in the 47 prefectural districts and for 48 proportional representation seats.

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