Japan's ruling bloc sweeps Tokyo vote

Big win a major boost for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party ahead of a July national vote.

    Japan's ruling bloc sweeps Tokyo vote
    Abe's LDP won 59 seats in the 127-member Tokyo assembly [EPA]

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling party has swept a weekend Tokyo election and has regained the majority in the assembly, a sign it's on track for a hefty win in a July national vote.

    All of the Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) 59 candidates won seats in the 127-member Tokyo assembly to regain the top spot.

    It was the party's biggest victory in the metropolis since 2001, when it was buoyed by the popularity of charismatic leader Junichiro Koizumi.

    "We have received a good evaluation of our handling of the government over the past six months," Abe, who campaigned heavily for the local vote, told reporters.

    "We would like to do our very best so people can feel that the economy is recovering as soon as possible."

    Upcoming polls

    Politicians and pundits had been eyeing the outcome of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election for clues on how well Abe's LDP and its junior partner, the New Komeito, will fare in a July 21 election for parliament's upper house.

    All of the New Komeito's 23 candidates also won, though with fewer votes than four years ago.

    In the latest sign of its faltering fortunes, the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan slid to 15 seats, fewer than the Japan Communist Party's 17 seats.

    Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto's right-leaning Japan Restoration Party won just two seats, reflecting his waning popularity after remarks that seemed to justify Japan's wartime military brothels.

    That could spell trouble for any LDP hopes of allying with Hashimoto to push constitutional reform, although another small conservative party, the Your Party, won seven seats.

    Voter turnout, however, was a near record low at 43.50 percent.

    Calculations by the Tokyo Shimbun daily showed the LDP won 46.5 percent of the seats with 15 percent of all eligible votes.


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