Voter sentiment divided over CDPJ-JCP cooperation

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Votes are counted for the House of Representatives election in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, on Sunday.

About 82% of Japanese Communist Party supporters voted for candidates of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, but only 46% of CDPJ supporters voted for JCP candidates in Sunday’s House of Representatives election, according to a joint exit poll by The Yomiuri Shimbun and Nippon TV network.

This gap illustrates the differing opinions regarding the two opposition parties’ strategy to field a single candidate per constituency.

Five opposition parties — the CDPJ, the JCP, the Democratic Party for the People, Reiwa Shinsengumi and the Social Democratic Party — agreed to field a single candidate in 213, or over 70%, of the 289 single-seat constituencies.

CDPJ candidates ran in 160 constituencies, while JCP candidates ran in 39 constituencies, under the strategy.

In the 160 constituencies with CDPJ candidates, 90% of CDPJ supporters and 82% of JCP supporters cast their ballots for the single candidate.

But, in the 39 constituencies with JCP candidates, only 46% of CDPJ supporters voted for the JCP candidates, compared to 80% of JCP supporters. Instead, 20% of CDPJ supporters chose LDP candidates, while 11% picked Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) candidates.

The exit poll indicated that a limited number of CDPJ supporters voted for JCP candidates, revealing cracks in the parties’ collaboration.

In Chiba Constituency No. 8, a CDPJ candidate effectively ran one-on-one against an LDP candidate. First-time winner Satoshi Honjo of the CDPJ defeated LDP lawmaker Yoshitaka Sakurada, who served as minister for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Honjo secured votes from more than 90% of CDPJ supporters, in addition to most JCP supporters, which significantly contributed to his victory.

However, in Tokyo Constituency No. 20, JCP lawmaker Toru Miyamoto was backed by multiple opposition parties, but failed to beat Seiji Kihara, an LDP lawmaker and former deputy chief cabinet secretary.

Although Miyamoto received votes from 90% of JCP supporters, only 60% of CDPJ supporters cast their ballots for him. Nearly 30% of CDPJ supporters in the constituency, in fact, voted for an Ishin candidate, showing that Miyamoto was unable to consolidate votes from CDPJ supporters.

Sunday’s exit poll also showed a notable increase in support for Ishin among voters with no party affiliation. Asked which political party they voted for, 24% of swing voters said they chose the CDPJ, followed by the LDP with 21%. Ishin received 19% of swing voters’ ballots, the DPFP 9%, the JCP 7% and Komeito 6%.

In the exit poll held after the 2017 lower house election, 30% of swing voters cast ballots for the CDPJ, and 9% voted for Ishin. However, this time Ishin had much more support.

Many swing voters who opposed the five opposition parties’ move to jointly field candidates decided to cast their ballots for Ishin. This is believed to have been the driving force behind Ishin’s strong performance.

This trend was seen in the constituencies where Ishin candidates won. In Osaka Constituency No. 14, Hitoshi Aoyagi, a first-time winner from Ishin, defeated LDP lawmaker Takashi Nagao. Aoyagi garnered support from 60% of swing voters, but Nagao secured only slightly over 20%.

Newcomer Hisashi Komatsu of the JCP received a little less than 20% of swing voters’ ballots in Osaka Constituency No. 14.