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Since last September when Shinzo Abe became prime minister, no event has had as powerful an impact on Japan’s political landscape as the January election of Hideo Higashikokubaru to the governorship of Miyazaki Prefecture. Many see the former comedian’s victory as a harbinger of what to expect not only in gubernatorial elections taking place throughout Japan this month, but also in the Upper House poll this summer.

Media pundits say Higashikokubaru’s win is evidence that people are acting on their disillusionment with party politics. For years Miyazaki was characterized as a “kingdom” of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, but Higashikokubaru, running as an independent, handily defeated the LDP’s candidate in the special election called to find a replacement for former Gov. Tadahiro Ando, an LDP member who resigned because of his involvement in a bid-rigging scandal.

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