News ID: 96037
Publish Date : 31 October 2021 - 21:34

TOYKO (AFP) – Japan’s ruling coalition is on track to retain power but lose seats in parliament, media predictions said after polls closed in Sunday’s general election, the first major test for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
The 64-year-old, who took office a month ago, said the forecasts based on exit polls showed the public has “trust” in his long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its junior coalition partner Komeito.
But as the votes were counted, analysts warned that a poor showing could raise questions within the LDP over the prime minister’s popularity and leadership ability.
Public broadcaster NHK predicted the coalition would win 239-288 of the 465 seats in parliament’s lower house.
TV Asahi said the coalition was expected to win 280 seats, down from its previous total of 305 -- weakening the dominance of the LDP, which has held power almost continuously since the 1950s.
“If the ruling coalition is given a majority, the government is given trust. It is a big deal,” Kishida said in televised comments.
He added that he hoped to issue a fresh stimulus package by the end of the year to counter the impact of the pandemic on the world’s third-largest economy.
“As far as economic measures, upon receiving the results of this election, I would like to draft them as soon as possible.” He had previously said the package would be worth tens of trillions of yen.
Kishida was voted LDP leader after Yoshihide Suga resigned just a year into the job, partly due to public discontent over his response to the Covid-19 crisis.
He has not enjoyed a political honeymoon, however, with approval ratings around 50 percent, the lowest in two decades for a new administration in Japan.
Cases have dropped precipitously since a record wave this summer that pushed the Tokyo Olympics behind closed doors, and voters in the capital said the pandemic was a major factor in their decision.
“The economy is suffering because of the coronavirus, so I compared the politicians’ responses,” said Chihiro Sato, 38, a housewife and mother of a toddler.
But engineer Hiroyasu Onishi, 79, said he was more concerned by “the military threat from China”.
Kishida has outlined plans to tackle inequality heightened by the pro-business policies of Suga and his predecessor Shinzo Abe.
He has vowed to distribute wealth more fairly under a so-called new capitalism, although the details remain vague.
Kishida had set a comfortable target of winning 233 lower-house seats, a simple majority including LDP and Komeito lawmakers.
The LDP previously boasted a commanding majority of 276 seats on its own.

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