Setback for Japan PM Kishida after election losses

Setback for Japan PM Kishida after election losses
Setback for Japan PM Kishida after election losses

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - This photo taken on April 28, 2024 shows Natsumi Sakai (centre) of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan posing with others after receiving news that she won the by-election for the Tokyo no. 15 district for the House of Representatives, in Tokyo. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida faced a further setback after his scandal-hit ruling party yesterday lost three by-elections for national seats. — Jiji Press /AFP pic

TOKYO, April 29 — Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida faced a fresh setback today after his scandal-hit ruling party lost three parliamentary seats in weekend by-elections.

Results from local election authorities and media exit polls showed his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lost all three of its seats up for grabs to the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the country’s largest opposition.

The losses in Tokyo, Shimane and Nagasaki — which could threaten Kishida’s position as party leader in a vote later this year — came after the LDP was rocked by a major kickback scandal linked to political fundraising parties.

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Factions of the LDP have admitted to systematically failing to report incomes from fundraisers for years and sharing the money among their members.

“We saw very serious consequences,” said LDP secretary general and Kishida’s right-hand man Toshimitsu Motegi late Sunday, after exit polls indicated his party had lost.

“It may take a long time, but we will work hard to regain the voters’ trust,” he told reporters.

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Local media said Monday that the election losses could encourage LDP lawmakers to try to bring down Kishida when his term as party leader expires in September.

“The Kishida administration stands on the edge of a cliff after losing all supplementary elections,” the influential Nikkei business daily said in an editorial.

The results highlighted “the LDP’s decline”, the top-selling conservative Yomiuri Shimbun said.

Kyodo News suggested the loss will “undermine Kishida’s political footing and prod LDP lawmakers to attempt to oust him from power before the next general election, making it unlikely he will run in the party’s presidential race around September”.

Still, the LDP-led ruling bloc controls a comfortable legislative majority, and there is no clear alternative to immediately replace Kishida among LDP members.

The LDP was on the back foot going into the special weekend vote.

Two of the seats were vacated by lawmakers who were forced to step down over separate scandals.

The third one became vacant following the death of a member of parliament who was also a senior official in a party faction that was deeply involved in the money scandal. — AFP

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