/ 29 October 2021

Konnichiwa to an election in Japan

Image source: Tokyo Review
Image source: Tokyo Review

You know that an election is a thing of joy here at The Squiz, and Sunday’s general election in Japan is set to be a cracker. Japan is of interest to Australia as our closest partner in Asia. And it’s the world’s 3rd largest economy after the US and China, so plenty of eyes will be on the outcome of what’s a thrilling and unusual race.

Roger that.

• Japan’s parliament is called the National Diet, and it’s a bicameral legislature. That’s a fancy way of saying it has 2 houses, like many corporate executives… This election is for members of the lower house – the House of Representatives. It has 465 seats, and a party needs to claim 233 to hold a majority.

• Today, PM Fumio Kishida marks one month as the nation’s leader. He took over from Yoshihide Suga whose abrupt resignation followed poor reviews of his management of the COVID crisis. He had only been in the job for a year after Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving PM, resigned due to ill health. So the political scene has been a bit hectic…

• Those 3 blokes are from the centre-right Liberal Democratic Party, which has held onto power almost continuously since its formation in 1955. The LDP goes in with 276 seats and the support of Komeito, a conservative party with 29 seats. As for the opposition, the Constitutional Democratic Party is next with 113 seats, so it has a lot of ground to cover if it is to win.

It is, and that’s because the polls show that the LDP could lose its majority on Sunday, and that could have dramatic consequences for who will be PM and what direction the government takes. That’s possible because the LDP is seriously weakened after the leadership changes, and polls show many voters reckon they have fumbled recent challenges. Meanwhile, opposition parties have coordinated in a way that hasn’t been seen before, so pundits are watching closely. Two things to keep in mind: about 40% of the electorate is still undecided, and voters turnout is expected to be low. So the outcome is far from certain…

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