Abe faces voters’ verdict

Abe faces voters’ verdict

Japan heads to the polls in snap elections.

Voters head to the polls Sunday to participate in the 47th House of Representatives election and pass judgment on the past two years of prime minister Shinzo Abe’s second administration.

The ruling coalition, made up of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, aims to stay in power with a stable majority so that they can continue implementing Abe’s economic policies, known as Abenomics.

Opposition parties such as the Democratic Party of Japan and the Japan Innovation Party are looking to increase their influence by capitalising on dissatisfaction with the administration.

Single-seat constituency seats will be contested by 959 candidates, of whom 609 are also listed on proportional representation ballots. There are 232 candidates running for only proportional representation seats. This makes a total of 1,191 candidates running in the 295 single-seat constituencies or seeking one of the 180 proportional representation seats in the 11 blocks nationwide.

With opposition parties running fewer candidates, in part because of coordination between them in single-seat constituency races, there are far fewer candidates than the 1,504 who contested the last lower house election in 2012.

This is the seventh election under the dual constituency-proportional representation system, with the third fewest candidates.

The DPJ is running 198 candidates, 40 fewer than would be needed to achieve a majority, meaning the party is not seeking to single-handedly take over the reins of government. Support for so-called third-pole parties has also waned. Combined, the JIP, the Party for Future Generations and the People’s Life Party are fielding 152 candidates.

Leaders give final speeches

Party leaders made their last appeals to voters on the streets from Saturday morning, the last day of election campaigning for Sunday’s House of Representatives’ election.

Abe, also president of the ruling LDP, asserted that his government has improved employment and pay conditions. Giving a stump speech in Koshu, Yamanashi Prefecture, he added, “It’s our mission to bring the warm wind of a good economy to those working hard in small and midsize businesses, too.”

Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of Komeito, who made a stump speech in front of JR Gifu Station, said, “It is important that Komeito expresses what the party has to say and makes a framework for agreement on policies to stabilise the coalition government.”

Banri Kaieda, leader of the major opposition DPJ, promoted its policies to voters in the Tsukiji district in Tokyo, saying: “We have to create a Japan where everyone can feel richness in their life. We intend to put a brake on the Abe administration’s runaway policies.”

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