Twin Lower House by-elections set for April 24


The Lower House on Tuesday approved the resignation of scandal-hit member Kensuke Miyazaki, paving the way for a by-election on April 24 in Kyoto, to go along with one already set for Hokkaido.

Miyazaki, 35, a former lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, tendered his resignation Friday following the revelation that he had an affair with a woman while his wife, a fellow LDP Diet member, was pregnant.

He had previously been proclaiming that he wanted to become the first lawmaker in Japan to take paternity leave.

With his departure, a Lower House by-election for the Kyoto No. 3 district will take place on April 24, the same day as a by-election for the Hokkaido No. 5 district is to be held following the death last year of Nobutaka Machimura, a former Lower House speaker and foreign minister.

The two by-elections are seen as a prelude to the Upper House election in the summer.

In the Kyoto election, Kenta Izumi, 41, a Lower House lawmaker from the Democratic Party of Japan, has expressed his intention to run.

In the general election in December 2014, Miyazaki defeated Izumi in the single-seat district. Izumi, however, won a seat through the proportional representation system.

The Japanese Communist Party and the Osaka Ishin no Kai are also considering fielding candidates.

The LDP has yet to decide whether to field a candidate. Some LDP members predict a tough battle given voters’ negative views of the Miyazaki scandal.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Shoji Nishida, an Upper House member who heads the LDP chapter in Kyoto, to discuss the by-election.

LDP Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki said: “We are coordinating various views. The Kyoto chapter says the LDP should field a candidate. It’s true there are conflicting views (in the LDP). The issue is how we will judge them.”

In the Hokkaido election, the LDP has decided to field Yoshiaki Wada, Machimura’s son-in-law.

Miyazaki had drawn public attention after expressing his eagerness to become the first male Diet member to take child-care leave in line with the government’s efforts to promote women’s advancement in society and address the declining birthrate.

But the affair scandal came to light after the weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun reported last week that Miyazaki had spent a night with a model in his Kyoto constituency on Jan. 30, six days before his wife, Megumi Kaneko, gave birth to a boy in a Tokyo hospital.

Kaneko, 37, represents a district in Niigata Prefecture in the Lower House.