Japan holds local elections in test for PM Kishida
Tokyo, Apr 9 (EFE).- Voting was underway in Japan on Sunday to elect prefectural governors, regional assembly members and mayors across the country in elections that are seen as a barometer of support for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government.
The polling booths opened at 7 am for these elections that are held every four years and in which voters will elect the governors of nine prefectures, mayors of six major cities and assembly members of 41 prefectures and 17 cities.
Among the governorships at stake are those of the Hokkaido, Kanagawa and Osaka prefectures.
The mayor of Osaka, which is among the most densely populated cities in the country, will also be chosen in the elections.
The performance of Kishida’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in these and other key areas will serve as a barometer of support for his government, whose public approval ratings fell to a record low at the start of the year – around 26 percent – according to several surveys.
Support for Kishida’s cabinet has improved in recent weeks as a result of the diplomatic activity of the prime minister, who will chair the G7 summit in Hiroshima in May, as well as various initiatives presented by the government, including a plan to boost the country’s birth rate.
On Apr. 23, another round of local elections will be held to elect mayors and assembly members of other Japanese municipalities, along with by-elections for five vacant seats in parliament.
If the LDP were to lose control of the main prefectural governments and assemblies, Kishida’s leadership could be questioned and rumors of a power struggle within his party to remove him from office could resurface.
The Japanese leader took office in October, and will face the party’s next presidential election in September 2024, which will determine whether he will continue as prime minister or be replaced.
The current term of the lower house will end in 2025, although the government could decide to dissolve it earlier to call for early elections in the event of a change in LDP’s leadership.
The LDP and its coalition partner, the Komeito, enjoy a large majority in the two chambers that make up Japan’s parliament. EFE