Ishin Blows Past Goal of Over 600 Assembly Members, Local Leaders

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Yumi Hayashi, center, celebrates with her supporters on Sunday night after her victory became certain in the by-election for Wakayama Constituency No. 1.

Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) has strengthened its foothold in the Kansai region by defeating the Liberal Democratic Party in the House of Representatives by-election for Wakayama Constituency No. 1 on Sunday.

Besides its home base of Osaka, the only other prefecture in which Ishin had held a lower house seat was Hyogo, in a single-seat constituency.

The victory in Wakayama demonstrated the party’s growing momentum.

In Sunday’s unified local elections, Ishin greatly exceeded its goal of raising the total number of local leaders and assembly members from the party to more than 600, up from about 470 before the elections.

By building a foothold outside Osaka, it made progress toward becoming a national political party.

“We proved that tiny ants can defeat an elephant if they unite,” Ishin leader Nobuyuki Baba said while telling supporters about the victory in the by-election on Sunday night in Wakayama. Baba said Ishin was determined to strengthen its voice in the Diet.

Ishin Secretary General Fumitake Fujita said on an NHK TV program, “This is the result of people sympathizing with our calls to change the old political structure.”

Baba and high-profile Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura focused their campaign support on Wakayama Constituency No. 1. Listing the prefectures where they have made inroads — Osaka, Wakayama, Nara and Hyogo — they prioritized local areas, saying that the Kansai region must be united to grow.

Ishin aims to increase its seats significantly in the next lower house election, hoping to become the largest opposition party. To that end, Ishin viewed Sunday’s unified local elections, held on the same day as the by-elections, as an opportunity to increase the number of local assembly members who will play a central role in Ishin’s campaigns for national elections.

The target of more than 600 includes candidates endorsed by the regional political party Osaka Ishin. Baba had pledged to step down as representative if Ishin did not meet the goal, and had been fighting with his back against a wall.