The Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, viewed as a litmus test for the course of national politics, will be held on July 4, the capital’s election board said Wednesday.
The election will take place ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, due to begin July 23 after being delayed for one year due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Official campaigning for the election, in which 127 seats are up for grabs, will kick off on June 25, according to the board.
Attention is focused on whether the ruling Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites First), a regional party launched by Gov. Yuriko Koike, can maintain its grip on power.
Another focus is how much the Liberal Democratic Party, the biggest ruling party in the Diet led by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, can regain its strength in the assembly following a crushing defeat four years ago.
The results of the election in the most populous municipality in Japan may indicate the future of national politics if a snap election is held thereafter. A general election must take place sometime before the terms of House of Representatives lawmakers expire on Oct. 21.
But it appears to be difficult for Suga to decide on dissolving the more powerful Lower House for the time being amid the coronavirus pandemic and his falling approval ratings in media opinion polls, reflecting the public’s disapproval of his handling of the global health crisis.
Currently, Tomin First holds 48 seats in the 127-seat assembly, followed by the LDP with 26 and the Komeito party with 23 and the Japanese Communist Party with 18. The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party in the Diet, has five seats.
Komeito is the ruling coalition partner of the LDP at the national level but decided to join hands with Koike’s local party in the Tokyo assembly ahead of the previous election.
In 2017, Tomin First became the biggest force, riding on the popularity of Koike, while the LDP saw 34 of its 57 seats slashed partly due to favoritism allegations against then-leader Shinzo Abe that saw the ruling party’s approval ratings fall.
Koike secured her second term in the gubernatorial election in July last year ahead of the Tokyo Olympics’ original schedule.
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