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Opposition Party Meltdown Puts Abe in Command

Maehara Kaieda 2

Seiji Maehara and Banri Kaieda (SNA)

SNA (Tokyo) — Last Sunday’s unusually predictable House of Councillors elections produced their predictable results: the LDP and New Komeito seized a strong majority in the chamber and thus will now firmly control both houses of the Diet. For the next three years the “twisted Diet” will be untwisted and, if governed with restraint, this administration should be able to see almost all of its bills enacted into law. An era of relative political stability may now be commencing.

Plenty of other political analysts have already pointed it out, but in many ways the LDP’s victory in these elections was actually not all that impressive. The 65 seats that the LDP picked up left them short of their own majority and somewhat dependent on New Komeito to pass legislation through the upper house. LDP district candidates picked up 42.7% of the district votes and the ruling party garnered 34.7% of the proportional vote, meaning that most of the 52.6% of qualified Japanese voters who actually showed up at the polls voted for non-LDP candidates. Strip away the distortions of the (LDP-designed) Japanese electoral system, then, and you find that the government enjoys a clear plurality, but not even close to a majority, of direct voter support.

Less scientific, but still quite credible to us, are our own street interviews with Japanese citizens. Asked if they believed that Prime Minister Abe would be able to deliver on his economic promises now that he has control of the Diet, many people said they weren’t really sure one way or the other, but they definitely “hope” he will succeed. And that, we believe, is the reason why the LDP collected as many votes as it did — because they have raises hopes of a better future.

On the other side of the coin, it isn’t that the LDP won these elections so much as that all of the opposition parties lost them miserably. All of the opposition parties are either beset by squabbling within their own ranks or are not viable as majority parties even when they are unified. None of the opposition parties look anywhere near being able to competently run the nation, so in that sense there was really no choice for the voters this time except for the LDP-New Komeito regime.

There were glimmers of a desire for change, however. In Tokyo, 30-year-old Yoshiko Kira of the Japan Communist Party and 38-year-old anti-nuclear actor Taro Yamamoto both won seats based on their grassroots appeal. They each garnered almost as many votes as New Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi, who has the entire Soka Gakkai political machine behind him. Another grassroots candidate who did surprisingly well was 34-year-old musician Yohei Miyake of Greens Japan. His 177,000 votes didn’t gain him a seat because Greens Japan didn’t win enough proportional section votes, but his performance was strong enough to suggest that he could win in the future.

What this indicates to us is that there is political space for a strong progressive movement in Japan, but that the existing parties of the liberal-left lack credibility and don’t inspire the public. They have a long, long way to go.


New Balance of Power:

115 seats Liberal Democratic Party
59 seats Democratic Party of Japan
20 seats New Komeito Party
18 seats Your Party
11 seats Japan Communist Party
9 seats Japan Restoration Party
3 seats Social Democratic Party
2 seats People’s Life Party


Liberal Democratic Party Councillors

District Seats

Chuichi Date
Motome Takizawa
Jiro Aichi
Katsunori Takahashi
Ryosuke Kozuki
Junichi Ishii
Toshiro Toyoda
Matsuji Nakaizumi
Muzuho Onuma
Masako Mori
Ichita Yamamoto
Toshiharu Furukawa
Tamayo Marukawa
Keizo Takemi
Ichiro Tsukada
Hiromi Yoshida
Hiroshi Moriya
Yasutada Ono
Yasuyuki Sakai
Takao Makino
Dai Shimamura
Shuji Yamada
Shigeru Doko
Hirofumi Takinami
Takeshi Ninoyu
Iwao Horii
Yumi Yoshikawa
Shoji Nishida
Takuji Yanagimoto
Yoshitada Konoike
Hiroshige Seko
Shingo Miyake
Toru Miki
Shoji Maitachi
Saburo Shimada
Masahiro Ishii
Kensei Mizote
Yoshimasa Hayashi
Takumi Ihara
Kojiro Takano
Masaji Matsuyama
Yuhei Yamashita
Yuichiro Koga
Seishi Baba
Yosuke Isozaki
Makoto Nagamine
Hidehisa Otsuji

Proportional Representation Seats

Yoshifumi Tsuge
Toshio Yamada
Masahisa Sato
Midori Ishii
Seiko Hashimoto
Takashi Hanyuda
Nobuaki Sato
Masaaki Akaike
Akiko Santo
Seiichi Eto
Masahiro Ishida
Haruko Arimura
Shuji Miyamoto
Kazuya Maruyama
Tsuneo Kitamura
Miki Watanabe
Yoshio Kimura
Fusae Ota


Democratic Party of Japan Councillors

District Seats

Katsuya Ogawa
Yukihisa Fujita
Hiroyuki Nagahama
Naoki Kazama
Yuichiro Hata
Kohei Otsuka
Kazuya Shimba
Hiroe Makiyama
Shinji Morimoto
Kuniyoshi Noda

Proportional Representation Seats

Tetsuji Isozaki
Yoshifumi Hamano
Kumiko Aihara
Kusuo Oshima
Mieko Kamimoto
Saori Yoshikawa
Toshio Ishigami


New Komeito Party Councillors

District Seats

Katsuo Yakura
Natsuo Yamaguchi
Sayaka Sasaki
Hisatake Sugi

Proportional Representation Seats

Kanae Yamamoto
Daisaku Hiraki
Yoshihiro Kawano
Hiroshi Yamamoto
Kaneshige Wakamatsu
Yuichiro Uozumi
Hideki Niizuma


Your Party Councillors

District Seats

Masamune Wada
Kuniko Koda
Michiyo Yakushiji
Shigefumi Matsuzawa

Proportional Representation Seats

Ryuhei Kawada
Kazuyuki Yamaguchi
Michitaro Watanabe
Yoshiyuki Inoue


Japan Communist Party Councillors

District Seats

Yoshiko Kira
Akiko Kurabayashi
Kotaro Tatsumi

Proportional Representation Seats

Akira Koike
Yoshiki Yamashita
Tomoko Kami
Satoshi Inoue
Sohei Nihi


Japan Restoration Party Councillors

District Seats

Toru Azuma
Takayuki Shimizu

Proportional Representation Seats

Antonio Inoki
Kyoko Nakayama
Mitsuo Gima
Takeshi Fujimaki
Masaji Nakano
Kunihiko Muroi


Social Democratic Party Councillor

Proportional Representation Seat

Seiji Mataichi


Note that the names listed here include only those that won seats in this House of Councillors election and does not include the half of the chamber that did not face the voters this year. Independents are also not listed here.