In the wake of last Sunday's local elections, big city political reporters were quick to see the results as (1) a mandate for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; and (2) a disaster for the Democratic Party of Japan.

The conclusions reached by those far removed from the rest of Japan — the place they sometimes visit during holidays in order to pay their respects to relatives living and deceased — are factually correct and rationally argued. But they offer little clue as to more fundamental social realities driving political choices.

The real story behind this year's local elections is, in fact, many stories. It's a tale of the "Abe economic bubble" in (parts of) Tokyo and the gap with other regions, of public works critics in Honshu cities that enjoy mild climates and hyperconvenient transport infrastructures, and public works-friendly voters in the remote snowy mountains, forests and fields of rural Hokkaido, Shikoku and Kyushu, and of overcrowded and expensive urban centers and depopulated regions with abandoned houses.