Candidates of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party lost in both of Sunday’s House of Representatives by-elections, in Osaka Constituency No. 12 and Okinawa Constituency No. 3, according to preliminary reports by The Yomiuri Shimbun. The results could serve as a harbinger of the House of Councillors elections this summer and show how the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is being evaluated.
In Osaka, the by-election was held following the death of the LDP’s Tomokatsu Kitagawa, who was the former state minister of the environment. Fumitake Fujita, 38, of Nippon Ishin no Kai secured the seat after beating three other competitors, including the LDP’s Shinpei Kitakawa, 32, also supported by junior coalition partner Komeito. Other contenders were Takeshi Miyamoto, 59, an independent and former lower house member of the Japanese Communist Party, and Shinji Tarutoko, 59, an independent and former internal affairs minister.
In Okinawa, Tomohiro Yara, 56, the candidate supported by the opposition parties, won the by-election by beating the LDP’s Aiko Shimajiri, 54, a former Abe Cabinet minister for Okinawa affairs who was also supported by Komeito.
The outcomes are expected to affect the strategies of the ruling and opposition parties for the House of Councillors elections.
The second half of the quadrennial unified local elections, including mayoral elections, were also held Sunday.
The Okinawa No. 3 by-election was necessary because current Okinawa prefectural Gov. Denny Tamaki had to vacate his seat when he ran for governor. The most controversial issue was whether to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps’ air station to the Henoko district in Nago, which is part of the constituency.