Voting Underway in 1st Round of Japan’s Unified Local Elections

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A woman holding her child casts her ballot at a junior high school in Utsunomiya on Sunday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Voting is underway in the first round of unified local elections across Japan on Sunday, with issues including child-rearing support, the fight against inflation and the revitalization of regional economies hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. and will close at 8 p.m., except at some polling stations. Ballot counting will begin later in the day.

The results of nine gubernatorial elections in the prefectures of Hokkaido, Kanagawa, Fukui, Osaka, Nara, Tottori, Shimane, Tokushima and Oita and of six mayoral polls in the ordinance-designated major cities of Sapporo, Sagamihara, Shizuoka, Hamamatsu, Osaka and Hiroshima are expected to be mostly known by midnight.

The results of assembly elections in 41 prefectures and 17 ordinance-designated cities are expected to be decided early on Monday.

In the double election for Osaka Prefecture’s governor and its namesake capital’s mayor, local political party Osaka Ishin no Kai’s candidates are competing with other candidates.

In Hokkaido, the ruling and opposition camps are fully divided in the governorship poll.

The gubernatorial race in Nara is an effective three-way contest among two candidates linked to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and one fielded by opposition Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party).

In the prefectural assembly elections, the focus is on whether the LDP will be able to win a majority of a total of 2,260 seats up for grabs, as it did in the previous two elections.

It is also being closely watched whether Osaka Ishin no Kai will be able to secure a majority in both the Osaka prefectural assembly and the Osaka city assembly.