Over 350 candidates expected to run in upper house election

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Diet building

At least 353 candidates will run in the House of Councillors election this summer, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun tally.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has selected candidates to field in all but one of the 45 constituencies where seats are being contested.

Opposition candidates will compete against other opposition members in 21 of the 32 constituencies in which only one seat is up for grabs, in stark contrast to the previous upper house poll in 2019, when the opposition camp fielded joint candidates in all such constituencies.

Official campaigning for the upper house election is expected to kick off on June 22 for polling day on July 10.

One seat has been added to the Saitama constituency and two seats to the proportional representation section, following a revision to the Public Offices Election Law in 2018.

The upper house now has 248 seats, comprising 148 constituency seats and 100 proportional representation seats.

There are 125 seats up for grabs in the upcoming election. Of them, 124 will be contested because the incumbents’ six-year term is set to expire. One of the seats up for grabs in the Kanagawa constituency is because an upper house member resigned mid-term last year.

The main focus of the election will be whether the LDP and its junior partner Komeito can maintain their majority in the upper house.

“We must secure political stability in the upcoming upper house election so that we can stand tall in the face of historic challenges,” Kishida said at a party-related event in Osaka Saturday in an address to incumbents seeking reelection.

The party aims to win at least 20 seats in the 32 constituencies where only one seat is up for grabs, according to a senior LDP official.

The LDP plans to dispatch party executives to about 10 such constituencies in the Tohoku region and Okinawa Prefecture during campaigning, because of struggles in those areas in recent upper house elections.

Strong approval rating

The approval rating for the Kishida Cabinet remained high at 63% in a nationwide poll conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun from May 13 to 15.

An LDP survey also indicated the party was likely to improve upon the results of the last upper house election in 2019, when the ruling camp won a majority of the seats up for grabs.

Many LDP members are hopeful that victory is assured if the situation does not change.

Cooperation among opposition parties is expected to be limited in the upcoming election.

In the last two upper house polls, the opposition fielded joint candidates in all of the 32 constituencies in which one seat was contested, making them effectively a head-to-head race between the ruling and opposition camps.

The opposition camp secured 11 of the 32 seats in 2016, and 10 of the 32 in 2019.

This time, 10 of the 32 constituencies are likely to have only one opposition candidate running, according to the latest Yomiuri Shimbun tally.

The results of last year’s House of Representatives election have cast a shadow over cooperation in the opposition camp.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan suffered a crushing defeat in the election after promoting a united front with other opposition parties, including the Japanese Communist Party, even though they have different stances on security and other fundamental policies.

Since then, the CDPJ has scrapped an agreement with the JCP on cooperation if the opposition bloc wins power, prompting the JCP to field its own candidates in at least 20 of the 32 constituencies in which only one seat is up for grabs.

Cooperation among opposition parties is also likely to be impacted by a shift in the Democratic Party for the People, which has adopted a stance closer to that of the ruling camp, including support for the government’s budget plan.

The CDPJ and DPFP have agreed to field joint candidates in only six constituencies, including Fukushima and Mie, amid a deepening split in the opposition camp.

Caution is growing among opposition parties that voters critical of the administration will pick Nippon Ishin no Kai in the upcoming upper house election, following the party’s success in last year’s lower house election.

On Saturday, the CDPJ and DPFP leaders separately visited Osaka in an effort to give their own parties a boost on Ishin’s home turf.