Main opposition makes big gains in upper house election

(Yukio Edano, leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, smiles at the party's election operations center in Tokyo following the House of Councillors election on July 21, 2019.)

TOKYO, Kyodo - Opposition parties saw mixed results in the upper house election on Sunday, with the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan making big gains while others struggled to find their place in a crowded field.

The CDPJ, which ran on promises to postpone a planned consumption tax hike and raise the minimum wage to 1,300 yen, won at least 17 of the 124 contested seats, according to early returns and Kyodo News exit polls, gaining eight seats to solidify its status as the leading opposition force in parliament.

“In less than two years since setting out, we’ve been able to gain so much support,” party leader Yukio Edano said as the votes were still being counted.

The Japan Innovation Party, the Osaka-based group pushing to reorganize the country’s 47 prefectures, won nine contested seats, expanding its presence in the House of Councillors to 15 seats.

In a sign of the party’s growing appeal, one of its candidates won a seat in the Tokyo electoral district, the first to do so outside of the Kansai region surrounding Osaka.

Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui, the party’s leader, said he will continue to push his agenda of “creating a sustainable Japan with a focus on regions” outside of Tokyo.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party for the People only managed to hold on to about six of the eight seats it held going into the upper house election, as its “Household First” economic platform failed to gain traction among voters.

The Japanese Communist Party came away with seven contested seats compared with the eight it previously held, while grassroots newcomer Reiwa Shinsengumi, formed in April by actor-turned-lawmaker Taro Yamamoto, won two seats.

“We’ve never seen momentum like this before. The people wanted someone to breathe new life into politics,” Yamamoto said.

Faring worse, the Social Democratic Party won a single seat through proportional representation in the face of an existential crisis. If it fails to gain 2 percent of overall votes, it could lose its status as a parliamentary party. (Kyodo)

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