Campaigning Begins for Tokyo Assembly By-Elections

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The official campaign period for the July 7 by-elections in nine constituencies of the Tokyo metropolitan assembly kicked off on Friday.

The Liberal Democratic Party and the regional political party Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites first group), to which Gov. Yuriko Koike serves as special adviser, are competing to become the biggest group in the assembly. Both parties back Koike, 71, in the Tokyo gubernatorial election also on July 7.

Meanwhile, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan hopes to pick up seats by campaigning in step with former member Renho, 56, who is challenging Koike for the governor’s post.

By-elections will take place in six of the capital’s 23 special wards — Koto, Shinagawa, Nakano, Kita, Itabashi and Adachi — as well as the cities of Hachioji and Fuchu and the southern Tama constituency comprising the cities of Tama and Inagi.

With one seat in each of the nine electoral districts up for grabs, it is the largest-ever set of by-elections for the assembly.

Of the nine seats, the LDP holds five and Tomin First two, while the remaining two are held by independents.

The LDP is the biggest group in the 127-member assembly with 27 seats, followed closely by Tomin First with 25.

A CDP assembly member described both groups as de facto ruling parties, since the pair and the third-biggest party, the 23-seat Komeito, often backed the Koike administration in assembly proceedings.

With the LDP facing headwinds due to a slush funds scandal involving its members in Japan’s parliament, the party may struggle in the by-elections. Its defeat would deal an additional blow to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

The LDP fielded candidates in all districts except southern Tama, and Tomin First in four districts, with two sides competing in Nakano, Kita and Itabashi. Meanwhile, the CDP put up candidates in Shinagawa, Adachi and southern Tama.