Party Heavyweights Hit the Road as By-election Campaigns Kick Off

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Left: LDP Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi delivers a campaign speech in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, on Tuesday morning.Right: CDPJ leader Kenta Izumi stumps in Urayasu in the prefecture.

Campaigning for by-elections to fill four House of Representative seats officially kicked off Tuesday.

Government measures to combat price hikes, child-rearing support and moves to boost the nation’s defense capabilities are expected to be highlighted during campaigning, with ruling and opposition parties positioning the by-elections as “a mid-term referendum” on Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration.

Voting and ballot counting are scheduled for April 23 for the lower house by-elections in Chiba Constituency No. 5, Wakayama Constituency No. 1, and Yamaguchi Constituencies No. 2 and No. 4, as well as a by-election for a House of Councillors seat for the Oita prefectural constituency, for which campaigning started on April 6. April 23 is also the polling day for the second half of unified local elections.

In Chiba Constituency No. 5, candidates include those from the Liberal Democratic Party, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party), the Japanese Communist Party, the Democratic Party for the People and Seijika Joshi 48 Party (the former NHK Party).

Wakayama Constituency No. 1 is being fought over by candidates from the LDP, Nippon Ishin, the JCP and Seijika Joshi.

Yamaguchi Constituency No. 2 is a competition between an LDP candidate and an independent candidate. Candidates for Yamaguchi Constituency No. 4 include those from the LDP, the CDPJ, and Seijika Joshi.

On Tuesday, senior members of ruling and opposition parties visited the constituencies to rouse support.

“Political stability is essential to resolve the mountain of issues [at hand],” Toshimitsu Motegi, secretary general of the ruling LDP, said at a campaign event in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, on Tuesday morning.

On the same day, Hiroshi Moriyama, chairperson of the LDP Election Strategy Committee, visited Wakayama Constituency No. 1; Toshiaki Endo, chairperson of the LDP General Council, went to Yamaguchi Constituency No. 2; and Koichi Hagiuda, chairperson of the LDP Policy Research Council, traveled to Yamaguchi Constituency No. 4.

In a show of increased support for the LDP, ruling coalition partner Komeito has backed LDP candidates in all four lower house by-elections for the sake of stability in the administration.

“Working with the LDP, we’ll make efforts to win seats in all the constituencies,” Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi said at a press conference on Tuesday morning.

Kenta Izumi, the leader of the CDPJ, and other opposition leaders were campaigning in Chiba Constituency No. 5 on Tuesday. “Make the right choice in politics starting from Chiba Constituency No. 5,” Izumi told voters in Urayasu.

Meanwhile, in Ichikawa, JCP Chair Kazuo Shii criticized government steps to increase the defense budget, among other policies. “Vote for peace,” Shii urged.

Yuichiro Tamaki, the leader of the DPFP, was also in Urayasu, where he vowed to “realize wage hikes above the level of inflation.”

Nippon Ishin is aiming to win a seat in Wakayama Constituency No. 1, which is in the same region as Nara Prefecture, where an Ishin candidate won the Nara gubernatorial race on Sunday.

“Free of political constraints, Ishin will make efforts to lead the nation in a good direction,” party leader Nobuyuki Baba said in Wakayama City on Tuesday.