LDP returns to power with crushing victory in Lower House

December 16, 2012

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

The opposition Liberal Democratic Party easily crushed the ruling Democratic Party of Japan to capture an overwhelming majority of seats in the Lower House on Dec. 16 and also secured enough seats with its coalition partner to override Upper House vetoes.

The LDP's coalition with the New Komeito has secured more than two-thirds of the seats in the more powerful 480-seat Lower House, allowing it to pass legislation through a second vote in that chamber even if the Upper House were to vote down the bill.

The DPJ was facing a devastating judgment of its three-plus years in charge of the government.

The results showed the LDP gaining more than 290 seats in the Lower House, well above the 241 needed for a simple majority. New Komeito won more than 30 seats.

Although the DPJ captured 308 seats in the historic 2009 Lower House election, it was struggling to retain even less than 60 seats this time around.

Among the newer parties making up the so-called "third force," the Japan Restoration Party became the third largest party in the Lower House by gaining more than 50 seats, while Your Party captured slightly less than 20 seats.

However, the Tomorrow Party of Japan, formed by Shiga Governor Yukiko Kada just days before the start of the Lower House campaign, suffered a major defeat, as it saw its number of seats reduced dramatically from 61 to less than 10.

Not only did the LDP enjoy sweeping victories in the traditional conservative regions of Hokuriku in central Japan as well as Chugoku and Shikoku in western Japan, but it succeeded in piling up large numbers of seats in urban areas where the DPJ did well three years ago.

The Japan Restoration Party picked up votes in the proportional representation constituencies that put it above the DPJ in terms of the number of seats, but it did not do as well in single-seat districts. Even in Osaka, the home base of the party that was formed by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, candidates of the Japan Restoration Party were in tight races with LDP candidates.

Among members of the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Noda, Deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada and Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba were re-elected. Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura became the first chief Cabinet secretary in Japanese political history to lose his seat, while Shinji Tarutoko, the internal affairs minister, and education minister Makiko Tanaka also were defeated.

Naoto Kan, the former prime minister who governed the nation during last March's Great East Japan Earthquake and the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, and Yoshito Sengoku, the former chief Cabinet secretary, lost in their single-seat district races. However, Kan retained his seat under the proportional representation constituency system.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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Liberal Democratic Party head Shinzo Abe arrives at party headquarters in Tokyo on Dec. 16. The LDP was headed for a landslide victory in the Lower House elections, meaning Abe will likely become Japan's next prime minister. (Shiro Nishihata)

Liberal Democratic Party head Shinzo Abe arrives at party headquarters in Tokyo on Dec. 16. The LDP was headed for a landslide victory in the Lower House elections, meaning Abe will likely become Japan's next prime minister. (Shiro Nishihata)

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  • Liberal Democratic Party head Shinzo Abe arrives at party headquarters in Tokyo on Dec. 16. The LDP was headed for a landslide victory in the Lower House elections, meaning Abe will likely become Japan's next prime minister. (Shiro Nishihata)
  • A solemn Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, far left, prepares to vote on Dec. 16 in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture. (Satoru Sekiguchi)
  • Evacuees from last year's natural disasters vote at a precinct set up at temporary housing facilities in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, on Dec. 16. (Kengo Hiyoshi)

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