Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida dissolved the lower house of parliament Thursday, paving the way for Oct. 31 national elections. That will pit new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida against unpopular opposition in a battle over who can better fix the pandemic-battered economy.
Kishida said he is seeking the public’s mandate for his policies after being elected prime minister by parliament only 10 days ago to replace Yoshihide Suga.
Tadamori Oshima, the speaker of the more powerful lower chamber, announced the dissolution at a plenary session.
At the announcement, all 465 lower house lawmakers stood up, shouted “banzai” three times and left. They’ve now lost their seats and official campaigning for a new lower house begins Tuesday. The last lower house election was held in 2017 under former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. At present, the LDP has 276 seats and Komeito has 29 for a total of 305, close to a two-thirds majority of 310.
His successor, Suga, lasted just a year as prime minister and his government’s support was battered by his perceived high-handed approach in dealing with the coronavirus and insistence on holding the Tokyo Olympics despite rising cases that angered the public.
How does Japan’s electoral system work?
There are 465 seats up for grabs in the lower house, the more powerful chamber of Japan’s bicameral parliament. About two-thirds of seats are filled through small constituencies, with the remainder chosen by proportional representation. The introduction of the districts in 1996 was designed to create a two-party system, but the LDP has remained in power for all but three years since.
Which are the main opposition parties?
The Constitutional Democratic Party is the biggest opposition group, with 112 seats. It is the successor to the Democratic Party of Japan, which was in power from 2009 to 2012. Many former DPJ cabinet ministers are in the CDP, including its leader, Yukio Edano.
The Japanese Communist Party is another opposition group, but it holds only 12 seats. Despite its name, it is more of a left-wing or center-left party.
The CDP and the JCP are planning to cooperate in the election and will field only one candidate from either party in small districts to maximize their chances of defeating LDP candidates.