Testing time for Abe as support wanes in Tokyo poll
SCANDAL-HIT Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces one of his biggest tests since coming to power in late 2012, after his ruling party lost to an upstart outfit in an election for Tokyo’s assembly.
The Liberal Democratic Party lost more than half its seats to end with 23, the lowest number ever in the capital, in a vote that could be a harbinger for national elections. Voter turnout was up about eight percentage points on the previous poll four years ago.
Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike’s Tomin First (Tokyo Residents First) party won 49 spots in the 127-seat assembly, up from six beforehand. That will give her a majority after she formed a local alliance with parties including Abe’s national coalition partner Komeito.
Sombre-faced party executives sat in silence at the opening of an extraordinary meeting yesterday morning to discuss the defeat.
“At times like this we must pull ourselves together and reflect on the things that should be reflected on, then move ahead carefully but decisively,” Abe said. “It’s been almost five years since the administration was launched and there was severe criticism that we might be lax.”
A poll by the Asahi newspaper at the weekend found support for Abe’s cabinet had fallen three percentage points to 38%, while 42% of respondents said they did not support him. The yen strengthened after the exit polls. Still, Abe’s defeat may fuel speculation he will resort to fresh economic stimulus to win support. Bloomberg