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Japan Ruling Party Candidates Wins 4 of 5 By-Elections

TOKYO, Japan – Candidates of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s ruling party won four of five parliamentary seats up for grabs on Sunday, April 23, domestic media said, in what is likely to be seen as a sign of growing support for the premier.

Analysts said the focus would now turn to whether Kishida might take advantage of the momentum by dissolving the lower house of parliament and calling a snap election.

Kishida, however, said on Monday morning he was not thinking about whether to call a snap election.

“I am determined to advance important policies while listening to the voices of the people,” he told reporters.

The closely watched contests came eight days after Kishida escaped an apparent attack during an outdoor speech for one of the races, an incident that revived memories of the assassination of former premier Shinzo Abe at an election campaign event last July.

Nobuchiyo Kishi, the eldest son of former defence minister Nobuo Kishi, clinched a seat for the lower house of Japan’s parliament in southwestern Yamaguchi prefecture, public broadcaster NHK and other media outlets reported.

Also in Yamaguchi, another candidate of Kishida’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) secured a lower house seat in the district that used to be held by Abe, the reports said.

Kishida, who has seen his cabinet’s support ratings stage a recovery recently, is hosting a Group of Seven (G7) leaders summit in his hometown of Hiroshima next month.

“This is a boost for the early dissolution of the Diet after the Hiroshima summit,” said Hiroshi Shiratori, a professor of political science at Hosei University in Tokyo.

Ruling party candidates also won an upper house seat in Oita prefecture on the southwestern island of Kyushu and a lower house seat in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo, NHK said, in what analysts said should have been an easier race for the LDP candidate.

“The fact that it was as close as it was is not an encouraging sign,” said Tobias Harris, deputy director of the Indo-Pacific programme at the German Marshall Fund, a Washington-based think tank.

In western Wakayama prefecture, where the apparent attack against Kishida took place, a candidate of the conservative Japan Innovation Party won the remaining lower house seat up for grabs, according to the broadcaster.

Source : Rappler