JAPAN DECIDES: Ruling LDP struggles over COVID, inequality

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, (centre), gestures during his party campaign for the upcoming general election in Tokyo on October 27, 2021

AGENCIES |Aljazeera | Tokyo, Japan – Voters in Japan will head to the polls on Sunday with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s party fighting to save its majority in the lower house, amid frustration over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic as well as worsening economic inequality.

Prior to the dissolution of parliament for Sunday’s vote, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had 276 seats in the 465-member chamber, while its coalition partner Komeito had 29.

Most polls are again projecting that the LDP will win a majority, albeit with a reduced number of seats, and Kishida – who took office earlier this month – said on Monday that the party faces an “extremely tough” situation in the upcoming vote.

Part of the reason is that five main opposition parties have teamed up to field joint candidates in a large number of single-member districts. The other is that there are a large number of voters who are still undecided – perhaps as many as 40 percent.

Kyodo news agency, which polled 119,000 eligible voters, said on Wednesday that the large proportion of undecided voters means the “result could still swing in either direction”. The Asahi Shimbun newspaper, which polled 380,000 voters, also said it was “still possible for the tide to change toward voting day”.

In the Japanese capital, Tokyo, where the LDP took the most seats in a July city election but failed to win an outright majority, voters were divided on the ruling party’s prospects.

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