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Politics LDP faces significant losses in Tokyo by-elections

thomas

Unswerving cyclist
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14 Mar 2002
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While some LDP top brass brazenly declared Koike's victory in the Tokyo elections "a victory for the LDP", the truth is that the ruling Jiminto, still smarting from a political funding scandal, suffered another setback, losing six of the eight constituencies it contested in Tokyo metropolitan assembly by-elections on 7 July. A record-high nine constituencies had by-elections conducted concurrently with the Tokyo governor election. Although the LDP narrowly remained the leading force in the 127-seat assembly, senior party members say the 7 July results do not bode well for the LDP in the next Lower House election.



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Kono Taro supporting the local Hachioji LDP candidate (Asahi)

Particularly disappointing for the party is what transpired in the constituency of Hachioji, western Tokyo. LDP newcomer Takahiro Baba lost to former metropolitan assembly member Yasuhiko Takita, who heads a local political group. Baba was unable to solidify his support base despite the area being the constituency of senior LDP lawmaker Koichi Hagiuda. Baba also received campaign support from other prominent party figures, such as Shigeru Ishiba and Taro Kono. Hagiuda expressed regret over Baba's loss, acknowledging the headwinds against the LDP. "I apologize for my role in creating difficulties for the party," said Hagiuda, who was investigated by prosecutors over his handling of political funds in the LDP earlier this year. "We could not narrow the gap." "The impact of this defeat will undoubtedly affect the Lower House election," said a veteran party leader. "If nothing is done, it could lead to a change in government." One LDP executive sighed, "Now it's clear that if a Lower House election were held now, we would suffer a crushing defeat."


The by-elections were held in six wards in central Tokyo--Koto, Shinagawa, Nakano, Kita, Itabashi and Adachi--as well as in the cities of Hachioji and Fuchu and the district covering the municipalities of Inagi and Tama. While the LDP won two seats, Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites First), a regional party aligned with re-elected Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, gained three. Independent candidates won three seats, and a candidate not affiliated with major parties.

 
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