Opposition trounces ruling party; LDP regains control

The Liberal Democratic Party and its partner, New Komeito, racked up 325 seats in Sunday’s Lower House election, reclaiming power after three years of working from the minority opposition role.

The tidal wave victory gives the LDP and New Komeito a supermajority that will even allow it to override Upper House vetoes.  It sets the stage for Shinzo Abe to be reelected Prime Minister for a second time.  Abe held the post in 2007, but citing health issues, resigned.  For Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, the Sunday election was a disaster.  A record seven Cabinet ministers, including his Education Minister, Makiko Tanaka, and Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura, lost their single-seat constituencies.  Naoto Kan,, a former Prime Minister, also lost his seat in Tokyo’s 18th district.

In Okinawa, Konosuke Kokuba of the LDP swept to an easy victory in the 1st District with 65,233 votes over Mikio Shimoji of People’s New Party (Kokumin Shinto), who finished a distant second with 46,865 votes, and Communist Party candidate Seiken Akamine, who tallied 27,856 votes.  It wasn’t all an easy ride for the LDP, as Kantoku Teruya of Democratic Socialist Party (Shaminto) easily won with 73,498, and outscored LDP candidate Masahisa Miyasaki, who picked up 55,373 votes.

Natsumi Higa of the LDP won the 3rd District with 68,523 votes.  His competitor, Denny Tamaki of Nippon Mirai-no To, the Tomorrow Party of Japan, had 56,711 votes but got to keep his seat through provisional voting.  In the 4th District, Kosaburo Nishime of the LDP won with 79,912 votes.

All in all, the LDP won four seats in Okinawa, while the Shaminto, Communists and Tomorrow Party of Japan each picked up one seat.

Voter turnout was low, only 59.52%, compared with 69.28% in the August 2009 election, according to the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, while the number of politicians looking for a seat in the Lower House was at an all-time high.  A total of 1,504 candidates ran for office from 12 different parties.  Nippon Ishin was the strongest of those smaller parties.

The 580 winners were certified by government tallies on Monday.