By-Elections Campaigns Kick Off in Japan’s 3 Prefectures; LDP Sits Out 2 Races Amid Effects of Scandals

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People listen to a speech by a candidate in the by-election for Tokyo Constituency No. 15 in Koto Ward, Tokyo, on Tuesday morning.

Campaigns for three House of Representatives by-elections — Tokyo Constituency No. 15, Shimane Constituency No. 1 and Nagasaki Constituency No. 3 — officially started on Tuesday, the first national elections since allegations emerged about widespread violations of the Political Funds Control Law involving factions of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

The issues of politics and money and economic policies are likely to be the main points of contention in the by-election campaigns.

The LDP did not field candidates of its own in the Tokyo and Nagasaki constituencies. The Shimane constituency is a showdown between the ruling and opposition parties.

The results of the by-elections could influence the handling of the administration of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his strategy for dissolving the lower house. Voting and ballot counting for the by-elections will be held on April 28.

The by-election in the Shimane constituency that covers Matsue and other municipalities is held in response to the death of Hiroyuki Hosoda, a former LDP lower house lawmaker who served as speaker of the lower house.

In the Shimane constituency, Norimasa Nishikori, 55, a former Finance Ministry official, and Akiko Kamei, 58, a former lower house lawmaker, filed their candidacies. Nishikori is endorsed by the LDP and Kamei by the largest opposition party, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.

Nishikori made his first campaign speech in front of the prefectural government office in Matsue on Tuesday morning. “This election will be very tough [for our side]. I’m determined to do the best I can and contribute to the development of my home area, Shimane,” he said.

Kamei took the microphone in front of JR Matsue Station in the prefectural capital city. “This is the only by-election in the country in which the ruling and opposition parties face off in the wake of the ‘hidden funds scandal.’ A victory here would be a major blow to the Kishida administration and change the direction of Japanese politics,” she said.

The by-election in the Tokyo constituency that covers Koto Ward is being held following the resignation from the Diet of Mito Kakizawa, a former state minister of justice, whose conviction over violating the Public Offices Election Law in a separate scandal has been finalized. He left the LDP.

The LDP has decided not to field an official candidate or recommend an independent candidate in the Tokyo constituency. Candidates from opposition and minor parties, and independent candidates are running in the constituency, making it a crowded field.

The by-election in the Nagasaki constituency, which covers Omura and other municipalities, is being held after Yaichi Tanigawa, whose conviction has been finalized in connection with the hidden funds scandal, resigned from the Diet. He also left the LDP. The LDP has decided not to field an official candidate there, and the by-election is expected to be a one-on-one battle between opposition candidates.