The results of the unified local elections on April 10 and 24 underline the waning of the Democratic Party of Japan’s strength. On April 10, the DPJ lost in the gubernatorial elections in Hokkaido, Tokyo and Mie. Its strength decreased from 415 seats to 346 seats in 41 prefectural assemblies and from 165 seats to 147 seats in assemblies of 15 major cities.

The Liberal Democratic Party became the No. 1 party in the prefectural assemblies, except in Osaka, and secured a majority in 21 of them. Still its total number of seats in the prefectural assemblies went down from 1,248 to 1,119 and that in the assemblies of 15 major cities fell from 262 to 222.

On April 24, the DPJ won only in three of the 10 city and ward mayor elections in which it confronted the LDP. In the Lower House by-election in the Aichi No. 6 constituency, the DPJ
could not even run its own candidate.

These election results show that people have a critical eye on Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s ability as a leader who has to reconstruct the nation from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and to end the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

He may manage to have the Diet pass the first supplementary budget for 2011, which finances projects for the reconstruction. But the fate of the second supplementary budget is uncertain because, given the election results, the opposition camp will step up moves to remove Mr. Kan from power.

Some DPJ members will heighten their call that he take responsibility for the election losses.

Mr. Kan should humbly examine whether he has tackled the task of helping victims of the triple disasters with sincerity and whether he mobilized all the resources available to solve the problems. He also must create an environment in which bureaucrats and other parties concerned will do their utmost to help disaster victims and solve the nuclear crisis as well as to establish a definite chain of command to manage various bodies set up to cope with the triple crises.

Mr. Kan should not forget that the possibility is now before him that if the opposition parties submit a no-confidence vote, some DPJ members will join them.

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