Independent News from Alternative Sources
Japanese voters did surprise: the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) emerged as the country’s largest opposition at the local level, according to The Economist.
Japanese voters went to the polls last weekend in local elections that set few pulses racing: turnout was the lowest on record and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the dominant partner in Japan’s ruling coalition, cruised to victory predictably, winning over half the nation’s prefectural assembly seats.
But another political success did surprise: the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) emerged as the country’s largest opposition at the local level.
The JCP took 136 seats, knocking the centrist Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)—which ran the country just five years ago—into fourth place behind Komeito, the LDP’s coalition partner.
The result followed notable gains made by the JCP in a general election in December, when they took more than 6m votes, bringing up their share of parliamentary seats from 8 to 21: the party’s best showing in nearly two decades.
The JCP’s platform has changed little in decades: its main aims are to overturn capitalism; to scrap Japan’s armed forces eventually; and to end the country’s 60-year-old military alliance with America.
The party’s renewed popularity is mostly a measure of the public’s frustration with mainstream politics, says Jeff Kingston of Temple University in Tokyo. It has capitalised on the electorate’s concerns about the right-wing government of Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, by rejecting his attempts to restart nuclear plants, cut corporate taxes and weaken restrictions on Japan’s military forces—all of which have gathered pace this year under Mr Abe’s stewardship.
The JCP’s recent popularity boost is also a result of its stand against an unpopular hike in the consumption tax last year.
The party’s increased representation since December has allowed it to propose new laws, for the first time in years.