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The ruling Liberal Democratic Party lost all three seats up for grabs in parliamentary by-elections Sunday, including two sparked by scandals in the LDP, dealing a significant blow to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga as he considers the timing of a general election that must be held by this fall.

Candidates backed by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan won in all three contests, including clinching an Upper House seat in the LDP bastion of Hiroshima, in an upset that could have wider repercussions for the ruling party, reports Eric Johnston.

Meanwhile, Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura was elected for the fifth time Sunday despite his involvement in a failed bid to oust the Aichi governor using a petition apparently stacked with forged names.

Haruko Miyaguchi (right), a former broadcaster backed by three opposition parties, bumps fists with a supporter after winning a seat in the Upper House in a by-election Sunday in Hiroshima. | KYODO
Haruko Miyaguchi (right), a former broadcaster backed by three opposition parties, bumps fists with a supporter after winning a seat in the Upper House in a by-election Sunday in Hiroshima. | KYODO

The LDP losses come just two days after Suga was forced to declare a third virus state of emergency — something he swore wouldn’t happen on his watch — highlighting a miscalculation in his pandemic strategy that could haunt him.

As Satoshi Sugiyama recounts in a look at the buildup toward the announcement, Suga had been pinning his hopes on local leaders deploying tougher anti-virus measures without central government help — and was exasperated by what he saw as their weak response.

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