Tokyo Assembly Election to set Political Ripples: LDP Defeat to Increase Pressure on PM Abe
Sawako Uchida and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) now firmly understands that many Japanese nationals are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the status quo. Of course, the election only applies to the Metropolitan Assembly of Tokyo. However, the reverberations will be heard within the LDP. After all, recent internal scandals have mired Abe and now knives will be sharpening within the ruling LDP if nothing changes.
Yuriko Koike, the Governor of Tokyo, broke ground by becoming the first female leader of this major international city. Yet, fusing her ideas within the new political party formed called Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites first group), highlights that her ambitions and vision is far above merely being elected the leader of this powerful city. Hence, Koike, and the Tomin First no Kai, challenged the ruling elites of the establishment and clearly, this hit a chord with many Tokyoites.
Koike deliberately attacked the establishment and with recent internal setbacks within the LDP – and alleged corruption – then her message hit home. At the same time, she seeks to shake up Tokyo itself because she believes that powerful vested interests are hindering the capital of Japan.
Deutsche Welle reports, “Koike portrayed the LDP-led Tokyo assembly as a place of dubious politics led by an old boys’ club opposed to her reform agenda. Her party’s plans include cutting the costs of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”
Nationally, the leader of Japan, Abe, will know full well that a political challenge to his leadership may occur in the near future. This is based on past national trends; for example, in 2009 the LDP suffered in Tokyo and this was followed by an electoral defeat one year later in the general election.
Ominously for Abe, Shigeru Ishiba, stated, “Rather than a victory for Tokyo Citizens First, this is a defeat for the LDP”
The former Defense Minister of Japan, Ishiba, also stated, “We must recognize this as an historic defeat.”
Reuters reports, “On the surface, the Tokyo Metropolitan assembly election was a referendum on Governor Yuriko Koike’s year in office, but the dismal showing for Abe’s party is also a stinging rebuke of his 4-1/2-year-old administration.”
Interestingly, the Komei Party, a coalition political party of the LDP in the national parliament, allied itself in the 127 Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly with Tomin First no Kai. Hence, possible reverberations internally within the LDP based on discontent with Abe – and nationally based on the role of the Komei Party.
Either way, Abe must learn from the election in Tokyo because of recent events in the United Kingdom in relation to the European Union, the changing political landscape in France, and other international political events show that discontent can easily move into a vacuum. It awaits to be seen how Abe will respond to recent setbacks. Yet, clearly, the sands are moving for Abe from the apparent plain sailings of last year.
Koike said, “Our candidates are all fresh, and this new lineup will make the assembly something completely different.”
Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group
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