Former Kagoshima Prefectural Assembly chief Masuo Kaneko won a seat in the House of Representatives in Sunday’s by-election, defeating independent Akashi Uchikoshi, who was backed by the Democratic Party of Japan.

A member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Kaneko, 67, was also backed by the LDP’s junior coalition partner, New Komeito, while Uchikoshi, 56, was supported by his former party and three other opposition parties. Sunday’s election victory, which involved four other challengers and was the first national contest since the sales tax hike on April 1, comes as a relief for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who faces difficult tasks ahead. “We got voter support for our policies and will continue to devote our energy,” Abe said.

Kaneko won 66,360 votes to Uchikoshi’s 46,021, according to final returns counted by the local election board.

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