Japan Kishida wanted to retain control, but his party won the election

TOKYO, October 31 (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s ruling coalition was expected to remain in power in Sunday’s election, but his party suffered heavy losses, potentially weakening him just a few weeks into the job of leading the world’s No. 3 economy. .

It was too close to say whether Kishida’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) would retain its majority in the powerful lower house of parliament, according to exit polls by public television station NHK, but Kishida’s coalition with partner Komeito was predicted to retain control.

The coalition was expected to win 239 to 288 seats in the lower house, more than the 233 needed for a majority, NHK said. LDP was expected to win between 212 and 255 seats.

“If the projections are correct, then Kishida should be able to continue to rule, or start ruling, but perhaps there will be a bit of a question mark over his leadership in light of the upper house election next year,” Koichi Nakano said. professor at Tokyo Sophia University.

The vote was a test for Kishida, who called the election shortly after taking over the top post earlier this month, and for his LDP, who has been in government except for short periods since it was formed in 1955.

But the party has been hit by its perceived mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic. Kishida, who has struggled to shake off the image of lacking charisma, has failed to excite voters with policies to help poorer people, while securing a major boost in military spending and taking a tougher line. China.

One of the most high-profile LDP defeats was a former finance minister and the leader of one of the party’s factions, Nobuteru Ishihara, who lost to an opposition candidate in a western Tokyo district.

Things WILL NOT FALL

The Osaka-based Japan Innovation Party led by popular politicians from the city government was expected to more than triple its numbers before the election, setting it on track to surpass LDP partner Komeito as the third force in the lower house.

“The coalition itself will not fall apart and the government will remain,” said Airo Hino, a professor at Tokyo Waseda University. “But even given this, the number of seats they have is certainly declining and that could make it difficult to govern Parliament.”

Kishida’s publicly stated goal had been for the coalition to retain a majority, at least 233 seats, of the 465 in the lower house. Before the election, the coalition had a two-thirds majority of 305, with the LDP having 276.

Investors and political observers have been focused on whether the LDP could retain its majority as a single party. Losing it would weaken Kishida’s power base in factional LDP, making it more dependent on Komeito.

The usually shattered opposition was united, with only one party – including the widely excluded Japanese Communist Party – facing the coalition in most districts.

Some voters – such as Yoshihiko Suzuki, who voted for the main opposition candidate in his district and the Communists in proportional representation – hoped the poll could teach the LDP a lesson.

Suzuki, 68 and retired, said the LDP’s years in power made it complacent and arrogant, underlined by a series of money and friendship scandals.

“I hope this election comes as a wakeup call for them,” he added. “If it does, the LDP will be a better party given the number of talented lawmakers they have.”

Reporting by Sakura Murakami, Elaine Lies, Irene Wang, Daniel Leussink, Kiyoshi Takenaka, Antoni Slodkowski and Yoshifumi Takemoto; Author Sakura Murakami and Elaine Lies; Edited by William Mallard and David Dolan

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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