National

Komeito eyes special legislation to postpone local elections

Jiji

Komeito, the coalition partner of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, is considering a bill to allow local elections to be postponed in Tokyo and six prefectures under a state of emergency over the novel coronavirus, it was learned Thursday.

At a news conference the same day, Komeito heavyweight Kazuo Kitagawa said the party aims to create a special law to put off local elections, citing similar legislation enacted in the wake of the Great Hanshin Earthquake in January 1995 and the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011.

Placing emphasis on local contests, Komeito hates a situation in which it cannot fight in a thoroughly organized manner, due to the coronavirus pandemic, pundits noted.

The fate of the envisaged bill is uncertain, however, since Abe has shown reluctance to push back elections.

At a parliamentary committee meeting Tuesday, Abe said going to polling stations is “not nonessential outing” that should be avoided under the state of emergency.

“Voting is the foundation of democracy,” he stressed.

A senior LDP member said the current situation is different from those following the massive natural disasters, which made it difficult to set up polling stations and forced people to evacuate from where they lived in afflicted areas.

Opposition parties, too, do not appreciate the idea of delaying elections.

“There’s no physical barrier” to holding elections now, Jun Azumi, parliamentary affairs chief of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, told reporters.

“Under the current circumstances, we need to do all we can and face judgment by voters,” Japanese Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii said.

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