Notes from the upper house campaign #1
As the 10 July House of Councillors elections approach, I plan to do a series of posts compiling short notes on developments from the campaign trail. For my overview of the election, click here.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, which oversees elections, has released numbers on the vote value disparity in this year’s vote. The disparity in the value of a vote — the number of voters per legislator from a constituency — is 3.032. A Fukui voter’s vote is worth just over three times as much as a Kanagawa voter’s.
Here are some other numbers about the race, courtesy of Jiji. The average age of all candidates is 51.7. The oldest is a “Burdock Party” candidate who is 89. The minor NHK Party has eight candidates who are 30, making them the youngest candidates in the race. The NHK Party has the youngest slate on average, with an average age of 45.7. The LDP’s candidates average 56.3; the CDP 51.9, Kōmeitō 50; Nippon Ishin 54.5; JCP 51; DPFP 50.6; Reiwa 51.4. The SDP’s candidates are the oldest on average, at 58.3.
Definitely check out the Nikkei Shimbun’s data visualizer for campaign appearances by party leaders, which includes some fantastic word clouds of their stump speeches and audience analysis.
Mainichi has a roundup of remarks from the first day here.
Pollsters cannot provide concrete numbers during the formal campaign period, but the first polls suggest that there are few surprises in store. Asahi reports that the LDP is on track to win 56-66 seats and Komeito 12-15, which even at the low end would easily clear the victory line of a simple majority of 56 for the ruling coalition. However, this would also mean that the LDP will fall short of an absolute majority of its own. Meanwhile, Asahi is predicting that the Constitutional Democrats could lose seats — they’re entering the campaign defending 23 (not counting upper house members not up for reelection) but the poll suggests a range of 13-22. Meanwhile, Nippon Ishin is expected to win 9-15, potentially doubling the 6 seats it entered the campaign defending. The CDP and Nippon Ishin are running neck and neck for the support of independents.
Asahi also suggests that the LDP leads in 25 of 32 single-member constituencies, with the opposition ahead only in Nagano. The remaining six are toss-ups, three of which are in Tohoku where the opposition has historically been stronger. Okinawa is also listed as a tossup. If the LDP won only 25 of these constituencies, it would still be a better performance than in 2019, when it won 22.
The Yomiuri Shimbun published the results of a poll that recorded a seven-point drop in the Kishida government’s approval, to 57%. The LDP’s support also dropped six points to 37%.
Asahi has also posted its other fantastic data source, the results of the candidate survey it conducts with Tokyo University. The data visualizer is here. One finding that the newspaper pulled out of the survey is that 68% of all candidates said they support “strengthening national defense,” compared with 37% in 2019. Needless to say, that’s the highest this figure has been since the survey began in 2003. Among those who agreed were 31% of CDP candidates and 83% of Komeito candidates.
The acquisition of strike capabilities remains controversial, however, including within the ruling coalition. Whereas 77% of LDP candidates support it, only 4% of Komeito candidates do.
Inflation and the weak yen featured heavily in stump speeches on the first day of campaigning. Prime Minister Kishida attributed the price increases to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and asked for the public’s understanding; CDP leader Izumi Kenta criticized the government and said a temporary consumption tax cut was necessary; Komeito leader Yamaguchi Natsuo said it was necessary to both control prices and boost wages. Mainichi notes the conspicuous absence of Kishida’s “new capitalism” from his stump speeches.
Abe Shinzō and Izumi were both campaigning in Saitama on the first day, where they shadowboxed over inflation, with Abe noting that the BOJ’s easing policies helped “take back” Japan, while Izumi — who has called for the BOJ to exit from easing — said that the weak yen “devalues” Japan.
The issue is definitely on the minds of voters, as Nikkei reports. The aforementioned Yomiuri poll found that 71% disapprove of the Kishida government’s handling of the issue and 83% say that feel the impact of higher prices on their household finances.
On Friday, 24 June, Kishida will be in Kanagawa and Chiba…LDP Secretary-General Motegi Toshimitsu will be in Yamagata and Akita…Takaichi Sanae will be in Yamagata…Abe will be in Fukuoka. More information on campaign stops by LDP officials is here.