On Sunday, April 23rd, several municipalities in Japan held local elections, marking the second round of quadrennial elections. Voters casted their ballots to decide the mayors for 88 cities, chiefs for 12 of Tokyo’s 23 wards, and assembly members in 294 cities and 21 Tokyo wards.
Sunday was also the day of by-elections for five vacant seats in parliament, which saw the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP) emerge victorious in four out of the five districts. The LDP’s strong win in the by-elections underscores the significant decline of left-wing parties in Japan. Moreover, the rise of the right-wing populist political party Nippon Ishin no Kai and Kishida’s ruling bloc‘s key gubernatorial wins further consolidated the LDP’s position after the two rounds of local elections. Sunday’s elections also showed an increasing trend in the number of uncontested elections, with 25 out of 88 mayoral candidates running unopposed, and 40% of the electoral districts struggling to gather the minimum number of candidates required to run.
Opposition parties’s weak organization in comparison to those of the LDP and their inability to offer new candidates are some of the main factors bringing to no major surprises on election days like last Sunday. And the next appointment with ballot papers might be sooner than we think: there are speculations that the favorable outcome of these elections may prompt Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to call for a general election in the near future.