Close race seen in Hiroshima special election for upper house

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People listen to a campaign speech in Hiroshima on Sunday.

Opposition and ruling party candidates are neck and neck in a special election for the Hiroshima prefectural constituency in the House of Councillors, based on the findings of a Yomiuri Shimbun telephone survey and interviews.

In addition to the Hiroshima election, campaigns are also underway for two other by-elections — in the House of Representatives’ Hokkaido No. 2 constituency and the House of Councillors’ Nagano prefectural constituency. Final voting and ballot-counting for all three will take place on Sunday, in the first parliamentary elections since the administration of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was inaugurated in September last year.

In the Nagano election, opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan candidate Jiro Hata is slightly ahead, followed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party candidate, Yutaka Komatsu.

In Hokkaido, CDPJ candidate Kenko Matsuki has gained the upper hand.

The Hiroshima election followed the invalidation of the victory by Anri Kawai, who won the seat in the 2019 upper house election. Kawai was found guilty in a large-scale vote-buying case related to the election and has left the LDP.

Opposition candidate Haruko Miyaguchi is backed by the CDPJ, the Democratic Party for the People and the Social Democratic Party. According to the Yomiuri survey, Miyaguchi is likely to have secured 90 percent of the votes from CDPJ supporters so far, as well as 30 percent of unaffiliated voters.

LDP candidate Hidenori Nishita has secured the votes of nearly 80 percent of the supporters of LDP coalition partner Komeito, and slightly less than 60 percent of LDP supporters’ votes.

The outcome of the Hiroshima election is likely to be influenced by the more than 30 percent of eligible voters who have yet to choose whom to cast their ballot for.

The Nagano election, held following the death of former Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Yuichiro Hata, has also become a one-on-one battle between opposition and ruling party candidates.

Hata’s younger brother, Jiro, has secured nearly 90 percent of the votes of CDPJ supporters and more than 50 percent of unaffiliated voters. LDP candidate Komatsu has secured more than 70 percent of LDP supporters’ votes.

In the Nagano election, nearly 20 percent of eligible voters have yet to decide whom to vote for.

The LDP decided not to field its own candidate in the Hokkaido election. Matsuki has secured 80 percent of the votes of CDPJ supporters, and about 20 percent of the votes of both LDP supporters and unaffiliated voters.

The Yomiuri Shimbun survey was conducted from April 16 to 18 in the three electoral districts, calling randomly generated numbers. Regarding the Hiroshima election, the survey received 746 responses from 1,313 households in which eligible voters were confirmed to reside, or a 57% response rate.

For the Nagano election, it received 756 responses from 1,323 households, or a 57% response rate. The Hokkaido election garnered 752 responses from 1,410 households, or 53% response rate.