• Kyodo


Nearly 30 percent of the public plans to vote for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party in the proportional representation section of the Lower House election expected next month, versus 8.0 percent for the main opposition Democratic Party, a Kyodo News poll said Sunday.

The results said 27 percent plan to go with the LDP, 6.2 percent with a new party slated to be established by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike’s aide, 4.6 percent for LDP ally Komeito, 3.5 percent for the Japanese Communist Party, 2.2 percent for Nippon Ishin no Kai, and 0.3 percent for the Social Democratic Party.

A whopping 42.2 percent, however, said they didn’t know who they will vote for.

The survey was conducted over the weekend after reports that Abe plans to call a general election on Oct. 22.

According to the survey, 64.3 percent of the public does not support Abe’s decision and 23.7 percent do.

In the meantime, 78.8 percent said they were not satisfied with the government’s explanation of the scandals involving Moritomo Gakuen, which involves a shady state land deal, and Kake Gakuen, a school run by Abe’s close friend. Opposition lawmakers suspect his government might have selected Kake Gakuen for a deregulation project due to interference from Abe. Only 13.8 percent said they were satisfied by the government’s explanation of the allegations.

The DP has been struggling with defections to the new party linked to Koike. But on Sunday, Mineyuki Fukuda, a senior vice minister of the Cabinet Office, said at a news conference that he planned to leave the LDP to run on the ticket of the new Koike-linked party, which could realign the scrambled opposition camp.

“I’m not meaning to criticize the LDP,” Fukuda said. “I’d like to create socially desirable human resources with Mr. Wakasa.”

Masaru Wakasa, another LDP defector and close aide to Koike, said at the same news conference that more could leave the LDP for the new party, which has also attracted prominent members of the opposition, including Goshi Hosono, who recently left.

Fukuda, a 53-year-old House of Representatives member in his third term, will convey his intention to the LDP on Monday.

First elected to the Lower House in 2005, Fukuda was defeated in the 2014 general election in his constituency in Kanagawa Prefecture but clung to a Diet seat on proportional representation.

Kyoko Nakayama, leader of the small opposition Party for Japanese Kokoro, also met with Koike the same day and expressed an intention to join the planned new party, a source close to the matter said. And Upper House lawmaker Kuniko Koda, an independent, also said she plans to join the party.

Also Sunday, Hosono said many voters believe it is risky to keep Abe in power while also considering the existing opposition parties as not becoming realistic alternatives.

“We’ll present a choice in the middle of them,” Hosono said on a TV program. He also said the new party will field candidates throughout the country.

“We’re not intending to be a third pole. We’re aiming to be the governing party,” Hosono said.

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