LDP must not let its guard down even after victory

The Liberal Democratic Party has firmly held on to a seat in a conservative stronghold, but it cannot be said that the party gained momentum for the House of Councillors election this summer. It is important for the LDP to run the administration while not becoming complacent about victory.

Former LDP lawmaker Shuji Miyamoto won the by-election for the upper house in the Ishikawa constituency, defeating three candidates, including those from the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) and the Japanese Communist Party.

The by-election was held due to the resignation of an incumbent LDP lawmaker who ran in the Ishikawa gubernatorial race in March. The party was concerned about the impact of the gubernatorial contest, which split conservative votes among three LDP candidates. However, it managed to mend ties with prefectural assembly members, proving its fundamental strength in the conservative base of Ishikawa Prefecture, where the party dominates, holding all three single-seat constituencies in the House of Representatives.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida went to Ishikawa Prefecture to participate in the by-election campaign and has said, in reference to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and measures to combat the novel coronavirus, “In these uncertain and chaotic times, what is in question is whether we can move forward by securing political stability or get mired in turmoil.”

Over the past six months, Kishida has been on alert against crises and has focused on running his administration in a safe manner. He apparently prioritizes securing a stable foundation in the upper house election in July, which is seen as a midterm assessment of his administration.

The government and the ruling parties soon plan to compile emergency economic stimulus measures to deal with soaring crude oil and food prices.

Expediting the recovery of the economy, which has been battered by the pandemic, and minimizing the impact of soaring prices are urgent tasks for the government. Effective measures should be taken that do not become mere pork-barrel handouts ahead of the election.

The LDP had been reluctant to compile a supplementary budget proposal during the current Diet session, but at the strong request of Komeito, it agreed to submit a proposal to the current Diet session.

Regarding cooperation in the upper house election, the LDP and Komeito decided to forgo mutually endorsing each other’s candidates across the board and to instead coordinate the fielding of candidates depending on each constituency. However, efforts in this regard are lagging. It is undeniable that the two parties’ relationship is strained.

Discussions on security strategy will also intensify. Both parties should communicate more closely with each other in order to properly handle difficult situations.

The latest by-election clearly showed that the opposition parties were at a stalemate in their efforts to form a united front. The JCP initially indicated its willingness to coordinate with the CDPJ in fielding a candidate, but the CDPJ, aiming to have its own candidate, fielded a party member from another prefecture shortly before official campaigning kicked off.

The distance between the CDPJ and the Democratic Party for the People is also growing, spurring the CDPJ to review its strategy for the upper house election.

With public interest in security policy growing in view of the crisis in Ukraine, the opposition parties’ attempt to form a united front is unlikely to receive broad support, especially with the JCP, whose party platform includes the dissolution of the Self-Defense Forces.

The CDPJ lost its first national election since Kenta Izumi took the helm as party leader. It is necessary for the party to proceed with reform, including the strengthening of local organizations, and to heighten efforts to propose responsible policies.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 25, 2022)