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Ruling coalition still tipped to win Japan election, but many close contests ahead: survey

Japan's National Diet building is seen in Tokyo. (Mainichi/Masahiro Kawata)

TOKYO -- The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its junior coalition partner Komeito are maintaining a steady lead midway through campaigning for the July 10 House of Councillors election, while opposition parties are slightly regaining momentum, a survey conducted by the Mainichi Shimbun over the weekend has shown.

    According to the survey including the results of a special opinion poll held on July 2 and 3, the LDP-Komeito coalition is likely to secure a majority of contested seats, or at least 63, in the upcoming election. However, the opposition bloc has somewhat regained their strength compared to the June 25-26 survey conducted in the early stage of the campaign period.

    Of the 32 constituencies nationwide where one seat each is up for grabs, the number of districts closely contested between ruling and opposition camps has increased to eight from five in the last survey. Likewise, in the constituencies where two or more seats each are at stake, the number of districts with head-to-head races rose to six from four in the previous survey.

    In the latest inquiry, around 40% of respondents said they had not decided which party or candidate to vote for in constituencies, while the corresponding figure for proportional representation blocs stood at some 30%. The survey outcome suggests that the situation may change right up until election day.

    In the July 10 election, a total of 125 seats in the 248-seat chamber will be up for grabs. The LDP is looking to garner a 125-seat majority including uncontested seats together with Komeito, in what the LDP dubs a "victory or defeat bar." In order to reach that threshold, the LDP and Komeito need to win at least 55 seats altogether.

    While the ruling parties and the opposition Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party, JIP) and Democratic Party for the People (DPFP) are eager to revise Japan's postwar Constitution, the four parties need to secure at least 82 seats in total to maintain the two-thirds majority (166 seats) necessary to initiate constitutional amendment in the upper chamber.

    In the latest survey, the number of seats the LDP is estimated to win slightly dropped to at least 53 from 56 in the early campaign period, while the corresponding figure for Komeito also declined from at least 13 to 10. Meanwhile, the four pro-constitutional amendment parties may manage to retain the two-thirds majority necessary to propose constitutional reform in the upper chamber.

    The LDP is maintaining a lead in 21 of the 32 constituencies where one seat each is up for grabs. Nevertheless, the party is seeing close battles in the Fukushima, Fukui and Miyazaki constituencies, where it had initially taken the lead.

    Of the 13 constituencies where multiple seats are up for election, Tokyo and Saitama are newly seeing close battles between the ruling and opposition camps, bringing the total of such districts to six.

    In the Tokyo constituency, where six seats are contested, two LDP candidates are in the leading pack, as do those running on the tickets of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP), Komeito, the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) and Reiwa Shinsengumi, with a JIP candidate trailing.

    In the Saitama constituency, where four seats are at stake, LDP and independent candidates are leading, followed by CDP, Komeito, JIP and JCP candidates.

    The CDP is maintaining its advantage in the Aomori and Iwate constituencies in north Japan, while the party is expected to garner six to eight seats in proportional representation. The CDP is projected to win at least 11 total seats, but it is uncertain whether it can secure more than 23 contested seats.

    The JIP is likely to secure seven to nine seats under proportional representation, as well as two seats in the Osaka constituency and additional seats in the Hyogo and Kanagawa constituencies.

    The JCP is expected to retain a seat in the Tokyo constituency, for a total of four to seven seats including proportional representation seats. The DPFP is likely to gain one seat in the Yamagata constituency, for a total of two to six seats including proportional representation seats.

    Reiwa Shinsengumi is forecast to win at least one proportional representation seat, while the fellow minor opposition Social Democratic Party and NHK Party, as well as the emerging political group Sanseito may also win seats via proportional representation.

    (Japanese original by Keiko Takahashi, Political News Department)

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