LDP Holds on to Seats Vacated by Abe, Kishi in By-elections

Jiji Press
Akie Abe, right, the widow of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, celebrates after Shinji Yoshida, left, won the by-election for the House of Representatives in Yamaguchi Constituency No. 4 on Sunday night.

Candidates of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party won Yamaguchi Constituencies No. 2 and No. 4 in by-elections for the House of Representatives on Sunday.

Three other by-elections held the same day, for Chiba Constituency No. 5 and Wakayama Constituency No. 1 in the lower house, and Oita Constituency in the House of Councillors, were being closely contested.

Slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s seat in Yamaguchi Constituency No. 4 went to Shinji Yoshida, 38, for his first lower house seat. Yoshida defeated Yoshifu Arita, 71, backed by the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, and three other candidates.

During the campaign, Yoshida stressed that the constituency needed to remain in LDP hands to honor Abe, and received full support from Abe’s widow, Akie.

In Yamaguchi Constituency No. 2, Nobuchiyo Kishi, 31, won the seat held by his father, former Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi. The former defense minister is Shinzo Abe’s younger brother and had resigned for health reasons. The younger Kishi faced off one-on-one against Hideo Hiraoka, a 69-year-old independent who served as justice minister under the administration led by the now-defunct Democratic Party of Japan.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
LDP candidate Nobuchiyo Kishi, center, celebrates after it was certain he would win the by-election for Yamaguchi Constituency No. 2 on Sunday.

Nobuchiyo Kishi grew up in a family of politicians including his great-grandfather Nobusuke Kishi, who served as prime minister. Aware of criticism of hereditary succession, the young Kishi stressed his humble political stance during the election campaign.

The by-election in Wakayama Constituency No. 1 was held to fill a lower house seat vacated by Shuhei Kishimoto, who resigned to run for the Wakayama gubernatorial election and is now the governor. Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) candidate Yumi Hayashi, 41, defeated LDP-backed Hirofumi Kado, 57, and other candidates.

Chiba Constituency No. 5 saw a showdown between LDP candidates and candidates supported by the CDPJ and other opposition parties.

In Chiba No. 5, the by-election was necessitated by the resignation of former LDP member Kentaro Sonoura. A total of seven candidates — those fielded by the LDP, the CDPJ, Ishin, the Japanese Communist Party, the Democratic Party for the People and the Seijika Joshi 48 Party, and an independent — vied for the seat.

In Oita, the seat was vacant after Kiyoshi Adachi resigned to run for Oita governor. An LDP candidate who ran for the upper house for the first time faced off with a former upper house member of the CDPJ.

In the five by-elections, the government’s measures to combat rising prices and the low birthrate, as well as foreign and security policies, were among the major issues of contention. The ruling and opposition parties waged an all-out battle, seeing the elections as a bellwether on Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is the president of the LDP.

On April 15, Kishida was attacked by a man who threw an explosive device at him on the campaign trail in Wakayama.

Unified local polls also held

Along with the by-elections, the second half of the 20th unified local elections were held Sunday to pick mayors and assembly members in Tokyo’s wards, while races were held to elect mayors and assembly members in non-ordinance designated cities as well as towns and villages.

The mayoral elections involved the prefectural capitals of Nagasaki, Mito, Takamatsu and Tsu. The incumbents were assured of victory in the latter three cities.