The political spotlight falls on Shimane Prefecture this weekend, as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan head Kenta Izumi will campaign on behalf of their candidates for the April 28 Lower House by-election.

For Kishida and the Liberal Democratic Party, the Shimane race is a must-win contest. It’s the only one of three by-elections being held that day where the LDP is officially fielding a candidate, and it comes at a time when the prime minister has record low poll numbers due to his handling of a political slush fund scandal that has angered voters and members of his own party.

For Izumi and the CDP, a victory in a district long considered an LDP stronghold would offer a strong boost to a party that has lost three Lower House and two Upper House by-elections — and six Upper House election seats — since Izumi became the leader in November 2021. Only an independent candidate backed by the CDP won a seat in the Upper House by-election for the Tokushima-Kochi district in October 2023.