Japan Parliamentary Elections: Fumio Kishida’s coalition secures comfortable majority in elections

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s coalition has secured a comfortable majority in Sunday’s parliamentary election.

Defying some predictions, Kishida’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) claimed 259 seats in the 465-member lower house, a result that gives the party an absolute stable majority and control over parliamentary committees.

The LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito won 32 seats, according to the final but not yet official results.

Together, the two parties’ share of seats in the lower house is 291, well above the majority of 233 that Kishida had aimed for.

“The lower house election is about choosing a leadership,” the prime minister said late on Sunday. “I believe we received a mandate from the voters.”

Despite its comfortable win, the LDP did lose 17 seats from its pre-election share.

Kishida, who has only been in power for a month, said the losses were in part due to opposition parties’ strategy of fielding unified candidates in many single-seat electoral districts, but also because of voters’ judgement of his predecessors over the past four years.

Kishida became Japan’s prime minister last month after winning a leadership race in his ruling party when his predecessor Yoshihide Suga resigned amid public frustration over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Kishida has hewed to traditional policies of the party’s right-wing, pushing to increase military spending to counter a more assertive China.

He has also promised to address wealth inequality, touting a “new capitalism” as the world’s third-largest economy struggles to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic.

The prime minister said late on Sunday that he planned to reappoint the same members to his post-election Cabinet to speed up the work on a supplementary budget by the end of this year so that he can fund an economic package to provide support for the people and businesses hit by the pandemic.