I will dissect this election over the coming days and weeks as the fallout becomes more apparent, but for now, the 135 to 102 distribution of seats between governing and opposition parties (as of now) suggests a new balance in the Japanese political system, the government’s Lower House super-majority notwithstanding.
Meanwhile, NHK just reported that Ozawa has been AWOL this evening due to illness.
And on that downbeat note, here ends my live blogging of the 2007 Upper House elections.
UPDATE, 12:50am— NHK reports that LDP Secretary-General Nakagawa Hidenao has submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Abe.
UPDATE, 12:41am — Two more PR seats, one to Tanaka Yasuo’s New Party Japan, one to Kokumin Shinto. Five remain.
UPDATE, 12:38am — NHK has called Fukui for the LDP by a margin of 192,439 to 189,642. The LDP now has 35 seats to the DPJ’s 59, with seven left. The final count of single-seat districts? The final count is 23-6 in favor of the DPJ, four seats below what I thought was the LDP’s worst-case scenario.
UPDATE, 12:33am — Does anyone else find Ozawa’s absence on the night of one of the greatest triumphs of his political career unusual? NHK is running through the results, and in prefecture after prefecture, DPJ and DPJ-backed candidates have won convincing victories. With eight seats left undecided, it is probably safe to say that Ozawa’s strategy of prioritizing building campaign organizations throughout the country over confronting the government in the Diet has paid off (although he obviously had a lot of help from the Abe Cabinet). And yet Ozawa is nowhere to be found.
UPDATE, 12:25am — The final margin of victory in Kagoshima is 402,395 votes to 399,227. The race is similarly close in Fukui, which is the last open single-seat district.
UPDATE, 12:23am— Responding to Ken’s comment, NHK is reporting that Marukawa is the sole LDP winner in Tokyo, meaning yes, Hosaka is out.
UPDATE, 12:16am — Kagoshima has been called for the LDP, raising its total to 34 versus 59 for the DPJ. The JCP has picked up another PR seat, its third seat.
UPDATE, 12:10am — Komeito wins another seat, now up to eight. Down to ten seats…
UPDATE, 12:07am — NHK has yet to call Kagoshima, where the LDP leads the DPJ by 3,000 votes with 99% counted.
UPDATE, 12:04am — The DPJ’s Mito Masahi — for whom I prepared fliers — has won the third seat in Kanagawa Prefecture, giving the DPJ two of the prefecture’s three seats. The DPJ now has 59 seats to the LDP’s 33, with eleven left.
UPDATE, 11:52pm — The LDP has won the fifth and final seat in Tokyo, LDP seat number 33. Twelve seats remain.
UPDATE, 11:49pm — One more LDP seat, DPJ 58, LDP 32, thirteen left. Of those thirteen, nine are PR seats, one is in Fukui Prefecture, one is in Kagoshima Prefecture, one is in Tokyo, and one is in Kanagawa. In the single-member districts, the current balance is 23-4 in the DPJ’s favor, with two remaining.
UPDATE, 11:38pm— And another, now DPJ 58, LDP 31.
UPDATE, 11:36pm — The DPJ defends a seat in Niigata, raising its total to 57. Fifteen seats left.
UPDATE, 11:32pm— Another LDP win means the balance is now DPJ 56, LDP 31, sixteen seats left. NHK has been interviewing the party heads in rapid succession (Hatoyama and Kan have spoken for the DPJ, but still no sign of Ozawa). The party heads look uniformly exhausted, DPJ included. Kan and Hatoyama seem barely capable of showing any sign of exhilaration.
UPDATE, 11:24pm — DPJ-backed independent Morita Takashi has won in Toyama Prefecture, another opposition win in a single-seat district. Seventeen seats left…
UPDATE, 11:20pm — Komeito picks up its seventh seat, this one in Tokyo, leaving one more that will presumably (?) go to the LDP candidate. Imagine though, if the LDP is locked out of Tokyo after winning all but two of Tokyo’s twenty-five Lower House seats in 2005 (one went to the DPJ’s Kan Naoto, the other to a Komeito candidate).
UPDATE, 11:07pm— While Hatoyama is interviewed, the screen shows that the DPJ has won in Saga Prefecture in Kyushu, raising its total to 56 seats, now with nineteen remaining.
UPDATE, 11:05pm — Abe is being interviewed on NHK now. Same blank stare, apologetic phrasing — and now he’s speaking of building a “new country” instead of a “beautiful country.” (Apparently a country in which the opposition controls one house of the Diet is no longer fit to be called beautiful.)
UPDATE, 10:59pm — One more LDP win, 30 to the DPJ’s 55 with twenty seats left. (A number of the seats that remain too close to call are in Kyushu, and if the DPJ emerges triumphant there, then its victory will be total, having beaten the LDP resoundingly throughout the country.)
UPDATE, 10:43pm — Mainichi reports that LDP Secretary-General Nakagawa will, not surprisingly, be falling on his sword to protect the prime minister: “It is my responsibility as secretary-general. I want to apologize to the prime minister for all the results.” Meanwhile, the LDP picks up two more, raising its total to 29 to the DPJ’s 55, with twenty-one left.
UPDATE, 10:31pm — Another upset in Chugoku: Kokumin Shinto candidate Kamei Akiko has defeated the veteran LDP incumbent Kageyama Shuntaro. This is Kokumin Shinto‘s first victory of the night, and adds another seat to the majority already won by the opposition. Twenty-three seats left…
UPDATE, 10:28pm — NHK just showed footage of Ozawa Ichiro on the campaign trail, the first I think I’ve seen of Ozawa this evening. But now Abe is getting to speak at LDP headquarters; he’s wearing the same blank, unblinking stare as Nakagawa, with perhaps the glint of a tear.
UPDATE, 10:23pm — The LDP has lost each of Shikoku’s four single-seat election districts, one better than my most optimistic prediction. The fourth winner was retired J-leaguer Tomochika Toshiro, running as an independent in Ehime.
UPDATE, 10:17pm — Prime Minister Abe is at the dais at LDP headquarters, receiving modest applause as underlings indicate the locations of the party’s latest victories and Abe places a rose next to each. (And Katayama, the loser in Okayama, has just apologized for his loss.)
UPDATE, 10:08pm — Phrase of the night: “Tough conditions.” [厳しい状況]
UPDATE, 10:05pm — NHK reports that the balance in the single-seat districts is now 19-3 in favor of the DPJ. DPJ has now reached the upper limit of my predictions for the single-seat districts, with seven more to go. And LDP Upper House head Aoki has just described the situation in the single-seat districts as “extremely tough.”
UPDATE, 10:02pm — I kind of wish that NHK would cut over to Pyongyang to Kim Jong Il’s Upper House election night party and show the Dear Leader doing a round of banzais every time a DPJ win is announced.
UPDATE, 9:51pm — NHK calls Okayama for the DPJ’s Himei Yumiko, who has apparently defeated LDP Upper House Secretary-General Katayama Toranosuke. I predicted that “If Katayama cannot hold onto his seat, the LDP is in major trouble.” Major trouble, indeed. NHK has also called Nagasaki for the DPJ. DPJ 55, LDP 27, twenty-four seats left.
UPDATE, 9:48pm — The DPJ adds one more, now 53 to the LDP’s 27. Twenty-six remaining.
UPDATE, 9:45pm — It looks like Yamamoto Ichita, the LDP incumbent in Gunma, may be the only LDP candidate who can sleep easy tonight, doubling up his rival with sixty percent of the vote tallied.
UPDATE, 9:43pm — NHK reports that Prime Minister Abe has arrived at LDP headquarters. Cannot wait for that press conference…meanwhile, the LDP defends a seat in Osaka, meaning that with twenty-seven seats left, the DPJ has 52, the LDP 27.
UPDATE, 9:37pm — An independent candidate in Tokyo picked up one of the five seats, raising the independent total to six. Twenty-eight remain to be called.
UPDATE, 9:35pm — The LDP picks up another seat, one of the three in Kanagawa. DPJ 52, LDP 26, with twenty-nine seats left. Meanwhile, NHK is reviewing some of the seats yet to be called, showing excruciatingly close races in Okayama and Shimane. (And among the LDP losers is Tamura Kohei, who critized Abe for his “beautiful country” rhetoric.)
UPDATE, 9:19pm — DPJ Secretary-General Hatoyama, meanwhile, looks shell-shocked. The history books will record this as a landslide for the DPJ, but the results make it look easier than it’s been. And Komeito just picked up another seat, its sixth, leaving thirty seats left to be called.
UPDATE, 9:16pm — Interview with Nakagawa Hidenao…his face is still frozen in that eerie blank stare. I mean, really, he’s barely blinking.
UPDATE, 9:05pm— The single-seat district balance is now 17-3 in the DPJ’s favor.
UPDATE, 9:04pm — NHK is currently at LDP headquarters, showing LDP Secretary-General Nakagawa sitting in front of a microphone with about as blank a stare as I have ever seen on his face. One more called for the DPJ, now 52 to 25, with another called for an independent. Now thirty-one seats remaining. The opposition parties now have 121 seats, the line of majority.
UPDATE, 8:58pm — One more called for the DPJ, now 51 to the LDP’s 25. Thirty-three left.
UPDATE, 8:56pm — While waiting for more results, they’re now showing the headquarters of Tani Hiroyuki, DPJ candidate in Tochigi, who has been declared the winner over LDP candidate Kunii Masayuki, a veteran norin zoku. I had expressed doubts about Tani’s chances, although I noted his chances for an upset. It seems that the Japanese voters did indeed opt for a new era in Japanese politics.
UPDATE, 8:52pm — Another called for the DPJ, DPJ 50, LDP 25, thirty-four to go. NHK is currently looking at results in Kanto, where the balance at this point is DPJ 12, LDP 3. Seems like a good sign that the urban appeal the LDP gained under Mr. Koizumi is gone.
UPDATE, 8:50pm — Two more called for the DPJ, DPJ 49, LDP 25 with thirty-five seats still to be called.
UPDATE, 8:48pm — Kyoto is called, not surprisingly splitting its two seats between the LDP and the DPJ. Thirty-seven left, DPJ 47, LDP 25.
UPDATE, 8:47pm — Thirty-nine left now…DPJ 46, LDP 24.
UPDATE, 8:45pm — Balance is 114 to 87 now, with forty-one seats left. DPJ 45, LDP 23.
UPDATE, 8:40pm — Forty-four seats left, DPJ 43, LDP 22. Still waiting for most of the seats in three- and five-seat districts, and about half the single-seat districts. The current balance in single-seat districts is DPJ 12, LDP 3.
UPDATE, 8:38pm— Forty-six seats left, DPJ 41, LDP 22. The opposition has 110 seats, the governing coaltion 86.
UPDATE, 8:35pm — NHK gives 19 PR seats to the DPJ, 11 to the LDP, 5 to Komeito, 2 to the JCP, and 1 to the JSP.
8:30pm — The results for all but forty-seven seats have been called, and it’s already shaping up to be a good night for the DPJ.
The results as of now: LDP 22 seats, DPJ 40 seats, Komeito 5 seats, JCP 2 seats, JSP 1 seats, Independents 4 seats.
NHK has also ran through the exit polling from each district and it looks as if the rural revolt went as planned, with the exit polls suggesting that the DPJ could pull off upsets deep in the heart of LDP country in Shikoku, Kyushu, and the Chugoku region of Honshu.
More soon as results come in…