Election turnout likely second-lowest in postwar period, estimate says


Voter turnout for single-seat constituencies in the House of Representatives election on Sunday was probably around 53.69 percent, the second-lowest since the war, an estimate showed Monday.

The lowest turnout was the 52.66 percent logged in the previous Lower House election in 2014.

The low figure apparently reflects the bad weather caused by Typhoon Lan.

In addition, voter interest apparently waned after media polls showed soon after official campaigning began that the ruling camp, led by the Liberal Democratic Party, had a comfortable lead over the fractured opposition.

By prefecture, turnout was estimated as highest in Yamagata Prefecture at 64.07 percent, and lowest in Tokushima Prefecture at 46.47 percent.

By sex, turnout stood at 54.09 percent for men and 53.32 percent for women.

The highest turnouts in recent years include 67.51 percent in the 2005 election, in which postal reform attracted keen public attention, and 69.28 percent in the 2009 election, when the former Democratic Party of Japan wrested power from the LDP.

But voters rewrote the postwar low for turnouts in two consecutive elections in 2012 and 2014.

However, voters who cast early ballots in the 11-day period ended Saturday set a record high for a national election at 21,378,387, according to the internal affairs ministry.

The figure, which accounts for 20.1 percent of overall voters, surged 62.5 percent higher than the 2014 Lower House election, the ministry said. It was also about 5.39 million votes higher than the previous record, which was set in last year’s House of Councilors election, which had a 17-day early voting period.

This time, many people apparently voted early to avoid the typhoon.

During their speeches, party leaders including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, president of the LDP, and Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, who leads Kibo no To (Party of Hope), called on voters to utilize the early voting system.

The early voting ratio in the snap election rose from the 2014 poll in all 47 prefectures, with 37 seeing surges of over 50 percent. The 28.4 percent increase in Akita posed the smallest increase.

Typhoon Lan, the 21st of the year, delayed ballot counting at least until Monday in 12 municipalities in eight prefectures — Aichi, Mie, Hyogo, Yamaguchi, Ehime, Saga, Miyazaki and Okinawa — mainly because the ballot boxes on various islands could not be taken to counting stations after regular transport services were canceled by bad weather.