Test­ing time for Abe as sup­port wanes in Tokyo poll

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

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

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