TOKYO – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party achieved a landslide victory in local elections according to Monday’s results, giving a new impetus to its economic revival policy.
Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, or LDP, won local assembly elections in 40 of the 41 districts and, together with its Buddhist Komeito coalition partner, won the majority in 24 of them.
Conservatives won 1,153 of the 2,284 seats in contention, helping them obtain majority in local elections for the first time since 1991, while the main opposition Democratic Party, or DP, garnered only 264 seats, Kyodo news agency reported.
These results validate Abe’s commitment to revitalizing the economy and rural areas hit by ageing and declining populations, an issue that has yet to be realized after more than two years.
Instead, the aggressive economic program has mainly benefited large companies and financial capitals.
“We hope that the economic recovery can be felt as soon as possible in all areas of the country,” the LDP election strategy committee chairman Toshimitsu Motegi said.
Following the local election results, LDP will have greater support to go ahead with its controversial foreign and defense policies, namely an amendment to the pacifist Japanese Constitution to allot greater global power to the Japanese army.
In total, 10 governors, five mayors, and provincial assembly member from 41 districts and 17 cities were chosen during the recent elections.
In Osaka, Japan’s second largest city, the local branch of Japan Innovation Party will continue to maintain its grip on regional and municipal assemblies.
Japanese analysts attributed Monday’s results to the lack of LDP alternatives, the DP’s weakness, as well as a general disinterest demonstrated by voters.
The 47.14 percent voter turnout is the lowest ever registered in local elections, and is much lower than the previous record of 52.63 percent from 2003.
On April 26, a second round of elections will be held to choose mayors and assemblies of the remaining areas.