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String of ex-LDP ministers, party heavyweights fall in Japan general election

Nobuteru Ishihara bows his head in apology before supporters in Tokyo's Suginami Ward, after his defeat in the Tokyo No. 8 constituency was confirmed on the evening of Oct. 31, 2021. (Mainichi/Naotsune Umemura)

TOKYO -- Numerous political heavyweights and former ministers of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) were defeated in the Oct. 31 House of Representatives election, as they struggled in single-seat constituencies where five opposition parties, including the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP), formed united fronts.

    Though Kenji Wakamiya, incumbent minister for the World Expo 2025, managed to secure a seat in the proportional representation bloc on an LDP ticket, he lost in the Tokyo No. 5 constituency. In the Tokyo No. 8 constituency, meanwhile, long-serving representative and former LDP Secretary-General Nobuteru Ishihara, who heads the Ishihara faction, lost to a newcomer who ran on a CDP ticket and was endorsed by opposition parties that unified their candidates to counter the governing party's candidate. Ishihara was also unable to win a seat in proportional representation.

    Former digital minister Takuya Hirai, who ran in the Kagawa No. 1 electoral district, and former Olympics minister Yoshitaka Sakurada of the Chiba No. 8 constituency were also defeated by CDP candidates. Former education minister Ryu Shionoya and former justice minister Katsutoshi Kaneda similarly lost to CDP candidates who were reelected as lower house members in the Shizuoka No. 8 and Akita No. 2 constituencies, respectively.

    Takeshi Noda, left, bows his head in apology before supporters after his defeat in the lower house election was confirmed on the evening of Oct. 31, 2021. (Mainichi/Hayato Jojima)

    In the Kumamoto No. 2 district, where the top two candidates had both garnered support from conservative forces, former home affairs minister Takeshi Noda was defeated by a newcomer and independent backed by retired politician and former LDP Secretary-General Makoto Koga, and failed to secure his 17th victory in a general election.

    Meanwhile, independent Jun Matsumoto, former chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, who left the LDP after visiting a night club in the capital's upscale Ginza district during the coronavirus state of emergency, was also among the veteran politicians who lost a seat. He was defeated in the lower house race despite being known as an aide to the LDP's vice president Taro Aso.

    At the same time, Ichiro Ozawa, a CDP heavyweight who previously served as a secretary-general for the LDP and later as president of the now-defunct Democratic Party of Japan, among other key positions, was defeated in the Iwate No. 3 constituency. Former construction minister Kishiro Nakamura also lost in the Ibaraki No. 7 district. It can be said that both the ruling and opposition parties of Japan battled against a headwind of public opinion seeking new faces among the country's lawmakers.

    (Japanese original by Yusuke Kaite, Political News Department)

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