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News 2021 Lower House elections and Kishida government

thomas

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Less than two weeks to the 2021 Lower House elections on 31 October, the parties started positioning themselves. And clenching their fists. Excellent collage by JT:

fist-clenching.jpg


It becomes more evident that Kishida is no different from the usual LDP stock: he backpedalled on "wealth distribution", he supports nuclear energy, opposes "progressive notions", such as LGBT rights and allowing married couples to keep separate names. His "new capitalism" keeps supporting corporations, but not the middle class, counting on the same trickle-down effect as Abenomics. Only that the trickle-down never happened. And increasing taxes on capital gains? Of course not.

However, the opposition hasn't done their homework either:

Edano asked why Kishida was urging private companies to raise salaries when politics is the reason behind the low salaries of such care workers, saying the wages "can be raised if the government decides."

Meanwhile, some labour unions, clashing with the opposition's policies on nuclear energy, will shift their support to the ruling LDP/Komeito coalition.

Traditionally, the electric power companies have supported candidates from the ruling coalition while the unions affiliated with such companies backed opposition party candidates. But with the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan including a plank in its campaign platform calling for a move away from nuclear energy, now even the unions are shifting their support to candidates of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. [...] One lawmaker running in a district where a CDP candidate is also competing said the support was likely a sign that the LDP's nuclear energy policy is coming across as more realistic. Another LDP lawmaker sought and gained the support of the local chapter of Kansai Electric's labor union. This is the first time the two LDP lawmakers have received support from the union.


And, last but not least, only 17,7% of all candidates standing in Japan's House of Representatives election are female.

The government has poured effort into the active participation of women in politics. The Cabinet approved a Fifth Basic Plan for Gender Equality at the end of 2020, which aimed to increase the proportion of female candidates in national elections to 35%. Nevertheless, women's participation in politics has not advanced. Among the two parties in the ruling coalition, the percentage of female candidates for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) stands at 9.8% (33 people), and for the party's junior coalition partner Komeito, the rate is just 7.5% (four people). Among the opposition parties, 18.3% (44 people) of Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) candidates are women, as are 35.4% (46 people) of Japanese Communist Party candidates, and 29.6% (eight people) Democratic Party for the People candidates. The LDP's low proportion of female candidates apparently stems from the party's practice of giving preferential treatment to incumbent legislators. A total of 256 of the party's candidates, or 76.1%, held seats in the last parliament, while newcomers account for just 21.4%.

 

Lothor

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The wheeling out of the families of the abductees just before every election is disgusting cynicism of the highest order, and the fact that the LDP are never called out for making no progress in the last 15 years on this issue that they loudly champion speaks volumes about the Japanese media and also the opposition parties.
 
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thomas

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Have politicians (or business tycoons, for that matter) ever been held accountable for anything? The electorate doesn't seem to care. Broken promises, corruption, lies? Guess what? The LDP will field another of their replaceable candidates who, in the worst case, will step down after a year. I'm not surprised by the general political apathy and disinterest.
 
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thomas

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In order to motivate, in particular, young people to go to the election, several celebrities released the video below under the “VOICE PROJECT Tohyo wa Anata no Koe”:




Akimoto Sayaka, Ando Tamae, Ishibashi Shizuka, Oguri Shun, KOM_I, Suda Masaki, ONE OK ROCK‘s Taka, Takito Kenichi, Nakano Taiga, Nikaido Fumi, Hashimoto Kanna, Maeno Tomoya, Rola, and Watanabe Ken all aim at boosting Japan's low participation rates in general elections.



And in case you wondered whether Kono Taro really got his window seat, here's what he has been doing as "LDP PR czar". 😁

 
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thomas

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A selection of articles on Japan's opposition parties and the general opposition to the government's plans to restart nuclear power plants.

The NYT had a piece on Japan's Communist Party, the "boogeyman by the unpopular party in power".

The Japan Communist Party is the oldest political party in the country. It's the largest nonruling Communist party in the world. It's harshly critical of China. And the Japanese authorities list it, along with ISIS and North Korea, as a threat to national security. To many in Japan, that comparison seems exaggerated. The party, which long ago abandoned Marx and Lenin and never really had time for Stalin or Mao, is about as radical as a beige cardigan: antiwar, pro-democracy, pro-economic equality.

In fact, I know some Japanese who vote Communist just to show their opposition to the ruling LDP regime.



Bloomberg focuses on Kichijoji, a trendy suburb in Western Tokyo and a stronghold for the Constitutional Democratic Party.

The heavily populated area had been a part of a stronghold district for the Constitutional Democratic Party's predecessor, its relatively youthful population far removed from the rural regions that have long backed the more conservative ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Moreover, the CDP's candidate is Naoto Kan, a former prime minister with lots of name recognition. But polls show Kan, 75, locked in a tight race with the LDP's Akihisa Nagashima, 59, a newcomer to the district known for his focus on security policy. And voters are clear about why: They have bad memories of when the opposition last ran the country nearly a decade ago, a three-year span that saw three different leaders and a devastating earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the northeast coastline. "It's difficult when the opposition becomes the largest party," Hidefumi Asai, 62, said Wednesday while heading to his job as a building janitor. "The LDP has been doing it for a long time, and they have more of a sense of stability."

I have always wondered why people keep lambasting the three-year rule of Minshuto but quietly condone the 65-some-year mismanagement, corruption and nepotism of the LDP.

The ruling party faces stiff opposition from those opposed to restarting Japan's nuclear power plants.

A decade after triple meltdowns at Fukushima forced mass evacuations and a shut-down of the nuclear industry, Japan has restarted only a third of its 33 operable reactors. Debate over whether to fire more of them back up is highly charged, with 40% of the population opposing the move. [...] "The reason why we feel so strongly about this is that we feel the danger of the nuclear power plant - it hangs over our heads every day," said Mie Kuwabara, a resident of a town close to Kashiwazaki and anti-nuclear activist. Voters mostly care about economic recovery from the pandemic. But energy policy came into sharp focus last month when Kishida beat a popular anti-nuclear candidate in the race for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) chief. The architect of Kishida's victory, party veteran Akira Amari, assumed a key party post and immediately pushed for restarts of 30 reactors while also promoting new, smaller reactors to replace ageing ones. Amari says Japan must revert to nuclear power to meet its 2050 carbon neutrality pledge, avoid rapidly rising prices of imported coal and gas and cut its reliance on other countries for energy needs.

 

Lothor

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About the three years of Minshuto. We were both here and the country basically muddled on as normal - it wasn't a disaster as the revisionists would have it. The party had the media and the bureaucrats against them, who correctly suspected that their usual masters would be back in power soon, so a lot of the aims of the government to cut wasteful spending were thwarted. They were also unlucky that the Fukushima disaster happened on their watch - I doubt the LDP would have been any better.
 
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thomas

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Yet, people bought into that myth of an incompetent and chaotic Minshuto government.

Anyhow, I am very curious to see if the unified opposition can gain some ground on Sunday. I sense much more LDP criticism around this time; let's see if it will manifest at the ballot box.
 

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It's always frustrated me that Japan is a de facto one-party system where it seems like even otherwise-intelligent people believe that as incompetent and corrupt as the LDP have proven themselves to be time and time again, that somehow they're still the least of all evils.

I suspect it's partially inertia and partly "the devil you know" sort of thing on the part of a generally disinterested populace that has long since given up hope for actual change. (Plus the usual suspects of mass media, major corporations, and the like promoting and supporting the status quo because it's good for their bottom line.)

For a while I was hoping against hope that the COVID debacle would shake things up a bit, but I have an increasingly sinking feeling that it's all going to be out of sight and out of mind, and just more business as usual. I suppose there's still a chance, though.

In the meantime, we consider ourselves fortunate that our own local government is actually quite progressive and proudly carrying on a staunchly anti-LDP legacy.

Bloomberg focuses on Kichijoji, a trendy suburb in Western Tokyo and a stronghold for the Constitutional Democratic Party.
Speaking of our neighborhood, yay, we get a shout-out! Being the area originally represented by former PM Naoto Kan (who on the ballot again this time), I feel fairly confident that the LDP won't be making serious inroads here any time in the future (thankfully).
 
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Yet, people bought into that myth of an incompetent and chaotic Minshuto government.

Anyhow, I am very curious to see if the unified opposition can gain some ground on Sunday. I sense much more LDP criticism around this time; let's see if it will manifest at the ballot box.
The low turnout in the recent by-election in Yamaguchi ken gave me some hope. I think that some of the less dyed-in-the-wool LDP voters will be staying away this time even if they will not vote for the opposition. I reckon it's going to be quite close.
 

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This week, ahead of Sunday's general elections, the NYT has daily features on Japan. Reporting from Chizu Town in Tottori Prefecture, yesterday's article was about the divide between urban and rural Japan and how rural voters are politically overrepresented, leading to skewed results and policies.

In some ways, the power of Japan's rural population parallels the political landscape in the United States, where each state has two senators regardless of population size — giving the Republican Party an outsized advantage because of its dominance of rural states. In Chizu, the nexus between political representation and access to public coffers is unmistakable. Because its residents are represented by a heavyweight member of the L.D.P. in Parliament, "we can get sufficient government aid," said Chizu's mayor, Hideo Kaneko, 68, in an interview in his renovated office. Chizu is in Tottori, Japan's least populated prefecture. In the district that includes Chizu, the member of Parliament represents fewer than half the number of voters served by the lower house lawmaker in Tokyo's most densely populated district. Critics say such disparities, common in rural communities, are fundamentally at odds with the democratic principle of "one person, one vote" and have skewed Japan's politics and domestic priorities.

 

bentenmusume

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Wow, who'da thunk it? ;)

(It's exactly the same in my home country due to gerrymandering, the electoral college, and the ridiculously disproportiate representative in the U.S. Senate.)
 

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The electorate has spoken, at least the 31.64% (as of 6 pm) who bothered to go to the ballot boxes. I am not sure whether this includes the 20m early votes cast until yesterday.

Asahi reports that the LDP is on its way to an absolute majority, while JT claims that an LDP majority is under threat. I guess we have to wait until tomorrow.




Another vote for "stability". 🥱
 

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Update: the ruling coalition kept the majority (losing 12 seats), the opposition gained 19 seats). Voter turnout was 55% (compared with 53.68% four years ago). 20.58m voters cast their ballots early (19.49%).




Same old, same old. What made me happy was that the CDP took over our local electoral district. ;)
 

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Update: the ruling coalition kept the majority (losing 12 seats), the opposition gained 19 seats). Voter turnout was 55% (compared with 53.68% four years ago). 20.58m voters cast their ballots early (19.49%).




Same old, same old. What made me happy was that the CDP took over our local electoral district. ;)
Mine too - Tokyo 9.
Still, a depressing result and another nail in Japan's coffin.
 

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Party
Total
(pre-election seats)
Electoral districtsProportional
representation
LDP259 (276)18772
Komeito32 (29)923
CDP96 (110)5739
Ishin41 (11)1625
DPP11 (8)65
JCP10 (12)19
Reiwa3 (1)03
SDP1 (1)10
NP0 (1)00
Independent12 (11)120
Others0 (1)00
Vacancy0 (4)00
 

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A little follow-up of last Sunday's general elections: two groups of lawyers filed lawsuits Monday seeking to void the results and conduct a rerun of the lower house election due to voting weight disparities created by Japan's rural-urban population imbalance. I am curious to see how these cases will turn out.

The disparity in the weight of a single vote between the most and least populated single-seat constituencies stood at 2.08-fold, widening from 1.98-fold in the previous House of Representatives election in 2017, when electoral districts were rezoned. The Supreme Court has found levels above 2.0 constitutionally problematic, but it has never ruled to nullify an election result.



I found this one on Twitter: Nikkei illustrated how membership in the LDP factions has changed in the election. The faction with the largest decrease is the Nikai faction, even Kishida's faction lost five members.

Factions listed below: Hosoda (細田), Takeshita (竹下), Aso (麻生), Nikai (二階), Kishida (岸田), Ishiba (石破), Ishihara (石原).


FDJcsEraUAAVKF-.png


 

bentenmusume

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Very disappointed (but sadly, not surprised) at the result of the recent elections. Both at the LDP scoring another lopsided victory (losing a few seats is hardly going to change anything), and even more so that of all the places for the anti-LDP vote to go, it went to the disgusting Ishin, a far-right nationalistic farce of a party masquerading as a "reform" party. And for no legitimate reason that I can think of, other than Osaka governor Yoshimura being on TV a lot and looking young, photogenic, and putting on an air of competence (and really just an air; his COVID policies, etc., were no better than anyone else's, and debatably worse).

It was a small solace to see former PM Naoto Kan eke out a victory in my voting district (Kichijoji/Musashino City), but I just can't help but feel like if voters aren't going to vote for change now, after the whole COVID/Olympics/State of Emergency/etc. debacle, then they probably never will. Not in my lifetime, at least. Oh well. Perhaps when my daughter comes to be voting age, things will be different. (And I'm genuinely considering going for citizenship at some point these days, so maybe I'll eventually be able to put my one vote out there to stem the tide.)
 
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thomas

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I still wonder what things would have looked like had those apathetic 45% of non-voters hauled their arses to the ballot boxes. 👿


(And I'm genuinely considering going for citizenship at some point these days, so maybe I'll eventually be able to put my one vote out there to stem the tide.)

Or you could even run for office. À la ツルネン マルテイ. :)
 

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The new foreign minister appears to be a good choice: Yoshimasa Hayashi is only 60, a Harvard graduate and (according to JT) fluent in English. He’s a member of the Kishida faction and former education minister. He’s considered PM material and thus a potential competitor of Kono Taro.



I found two interviews in English:





 

bentenmusume

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thomas said:
I still wonder what things would have looked like had those apathetic 45% of non-voters hauled their arses to the ballot boxes. 👿

Isn't this always the ultimate question? The unfortunate thing is that I think (in Japan's case at least), that many of them genuinely aren't satisfied with the status quo but feel powerless to change it. Then there are the truly apathetic ones, who are mostly well off enough that they can afford to just not care.

thomas said:
Or you could even run for office. À la ツルネン マルテイ. :)

I'm familiar with the man and as impressed as I am by what he's accomplished, I feel like a career in politics would be detrimental to my physical and mental health. ;)
 

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Today, Kishida was formally re-elected as PM of Japan.


And, Abe has taken over the largest faction of the LDP, until today led by Hosoda (see above). Now known as the Abe faction. 🤢

The faction with 87 members is named after its current chief, Hiroyuki Hosoda, a former chief Cabinet secretary. But as he was to be appointed as speaker of the Lower House on Nov. 10 and needed to be replaced, the Hosoda faction convened an extraordinary meeting Nov. 9 that was attended by senior members with the express intention of wooing Abe. Abe, according to sources, plans to accept the offer. He is expected to rejoin the faction at its general meeting on Nov. 11. and take it over as the "Abe faction."

 
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