|People listen to a politician giving a stump speech in Sapporo, Hokkaido, on Oct. 19, 2021, as campaigning for Japan's Oct. 31 general election began the same day. (Photo by=Agencia EFE)|
[Asia News = Reporter Reakkana] TOKYO: Campaigning for Japan's Oct. 31 general election began Tuesday, with new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida seeking a mandate for his COVID-19 and economic policies while opposition parties are banding together in a bid to loosen the ruling coalition's grip on power, Kyodo reported.
Some 1,050 candidates are contesting 465 seats in the House of Representatives, the powerful lower chamber of parliament, with Kishida's Liberal Democratic Party and smaller partner Komeito looking to retain their overall majority. Kishida has said he will claim victory if the ruling coalition can retain an overall majority of at least 233 seats, a low bar considering it held 305 prior to the lower house's dissolution. The CDPJ is looking to add to its 110 seats, stepping up cooperation with other opposition groups including the Japanese Communist Party by consolidating their candidates for a better chance at winning single-seat districts.
The previous general election was held in October 2017 under Abe, with the ruling coalition soundly defeating a fractured opposition amid low voter turnout. The LDP has only been ousted from power twice since its founding in 1955, most recently from 2009 to 2012 by the CDPJ's forerunner, the Democratic Party of Japan.