The Sankei Shimbun has called the October 22 elections:
- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will win 2 in every 3 seats up for grabs.
- The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) will become the major opposition party.
- Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike’s Party of Hope (PH) could lose seats.
Sankei based its assessment on the results of the joint Sankei-Fuji News Network (FNN) opinion poll conducted October 12th-15th, and on reports from offices nationwide.
As of October 16th, Sankei said the LDP is favored to gain 300 seats; with a Komeito coalition, it looks set to secure 2/3 of the House or 310 seats. The PH has stalled and could find itself with around 40 seats, less than the 57 seats it began with.
Meanwhile, the CDPJ looks like it will become the major opposition party in Parliament. It is forecasted to more than triple its original 16 seats to secure somewhere in the region of 50 seats.
The initial outlook, from Sankei Shimbun and other news outlets, was that the LDP/Komeito coalition would garner 300 seats combined. However, the LDP is increasing its lead. Around 210 of the 289 contested seats are safe, with a total of 230 seats in sight. This is more than the 223 seats it won in the December 2014 election.
In addition to the safe seats of the Kyushu and central Japan regions, the LDP is showing a positive lead in many electoral metropolitan districts, such as Tokyo and Osaka, which were initially predicted as difficult seats.
The LDP is also predicted to repeat its performance in the previous election to gain around 68 of the 176 proportional representative seats available. It is highly likely that the total number of seats secured will exceed the currently held 291 seats.
Komeito will be hard put to hold onto the current 35 seats, as it battles close competition in several electorates, and has also had its proportional representative seats reduced by 4. However, the ruling party will still find it difficult to gain the 310 seats necessary to undertake constitutional reform.
Fielding a minority of 235 candidates, the opposition Party of Hope is floundering. They are struggling nationwide, and even in electorates in the home territory of party leader Yuriko Koike, governor of Tokyo Prefecture. There doesn’t appear to be any overwhelmingly promising candidates. Proportional representation numbers are not expected to reach 30 seats.
However, the situation may still change. There are over 30 closely-contested electorates, and electorates where more than 50% of voters are undecided.
Meanwhile, according to the Sankei-FNN joint public opinion survey (conducted 14-15th Oct), support for Party of Hope leader, Governor Koike, has plummeted 27.2 points from the last opinion poll (16-17th Sept) to 39.2%
60.7% of respondents said they have “low expectations” regarding the Party of Hope, which is clearly much higher than the 34.6% of respondents who harbor “high expectations.” Only 14.2% of respondents thought that Ms Koike should have contested a seat in the election, whereas 81.1% agreed with her decision to remain on as governor of Tokyo.
On the question of whether Abe or Koike is better suited to the role of Prime Minister, 54.0% of respondents chose Prime Minister Abe, with 26.5% of respondents choosing Ms Koike.
Regarding the structure of the next government, 50.5% of respondents chose an “LDP-centred government,” while 40.6% of respondents chose “a non-LDP administration.”