The first half of the nationwide series of local elections — in which people voted on Sunday to elect governors of 11 prefectures, members of assemblies in 41 prefectures as well as mayors and assembly members of some of the designated major cities — once again highlighted the steady support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party on the one hand and the continuing weakness of the opposition parties on the other. The elections, held every four years this season, also underlined declining voter turnout and the problem of a growing proportion of seats in local assembly races that are won without a vote because not enough candidates emerge to necessitate a contest. Steps need to be taken to address that problem, which deprives voters of choices in elections and even the opportunity to vote.
In the prefectural assembly elections, the LDP won a total of 1,158 seats out of the 2,277 up for grabs in the 41 prefectures, retaining a total majority and securing a single-party majority in the assemblies of 25 prefectures. An LDP-backed candidate defeated the contender jointly supported by key opposition parties in the gubernatorial race in Hokkaido — a traditional stronghold of the former Democratic Party of Japan.