Ruling Japanese party LDP retains single-party majority

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida puts rosettes by LDP successful election candidates' names on a board at the party headquarters in Tokyo. Photo: 31 October 2021
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida took power of the ruling party ahead of the general election

Japan’s ruling party has held on to their single-party majority, in a big win for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida who took power just a month ago.

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) secured more than 233 lower house seats – enough to govern without its coalition partner Komeito.

Mr Kishida, 64, became leader of the LDP earlier this month. The party has dominated Japanese politics for decades but was criticized for its handling of the pandemic. Mr Kishida’s predecessor, Yoshihide Suga, stepped down in September after just a year in office.

The resignation came amid plummeting poll ratings for the LDP following an unpopular push to continue with the Tokyo Olympics despite public concern about surging Covid-19 rates.

Mr Kishida has long-targeted the prime ministerial role and previously served as the country’s foreign minister from 2012 to 2017. The LDP went into Sunday’s general election holding 276 of the 465 seats up for grabs. Initial exit polls suggested the LDP would need to rely on its coalition partner for a majority – but it defied expectations.

The LDP has now scored 261 seats, exceeding the parliamentary majority of 233 seats. With Komeito scoring 32 seats, it gives their coalition a total of 293 seats.

Japan’s parliament, known as the National Diet, comprises the lower House of Representatives and an upper House of Councillors. Sunday’s vote concerned the more powerful lower house, with an upper house vote set to take place next year.

On Monday Japan’s Nikkei 225 benchmark share index jumped by more than 2% in Tokyo morning trade, as investors bet that the LDP’s outright majority means that Mr Kishida’s economic stimulus plans will pass smoothly through parliament.

Before the election Mr Kishida had promised to spend trillions of yen to help support the world’s third largest economy in the wake of the pandemic. He had on Sunday night told national broadcaster NHK that he planned an extra budget before the end of this year.

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Who is Fumio Kishida?

  • Mr Kishida comes from a political family with both his father and grandfather involved in government
  • He was first elected as a lawmaker in 1993 and became the longest serving foreign minister between 2012-2017
  • He arranged Barack Obama’s 2016 visit to his hometown Hiroshima, one of the cities hit by a nuclear bomb, the first by a sitting US President
  • He failed the entrance exam to the esteemed University of Tokyo – seen as an “embarrassment” by his family, many of whom studied there
  • He loves drinking, famously challenging his Russian counterpart foreign minister Sergey Lavrov to a drinking contest

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