Prior to last month’s election, it may have seemed consequential that the JCP is running candidates in all twenty-five of Tokyo’s districts. But given that the JCP lost ground despite media reports of a “communist boom,” the JCP may have little bearing on the outcome on 30 August.
The DPJ’s one SMD incumbent is Kan Naoto, running in Tokyo’s eighteenth district. He will no doubt win reelection this year.
The LDP is likely secure in six seats. In the ninth district, LDP incumbent Sugawara Isshu, running for his third term, faces an inexperienced challenger in the DPJ’s Kiuchi Takatane, who is running for office for the first time. The ninth, which includes part of Tokyo’s Nerima ward, is one district where the JCP candidate, Kishi Yoshinobu, might be able to throw the election to the LDP: the JCP has received roughly 30,000 votes in the district in the past several elections, not enough to matter in 2005 but decisive in 2003 when Sugawara defeated his DPJ challenger by only 16,000 votes.
In the eleventh district, incumbent Shimomura Hakubun faces a New Party Japan candidate, deputy party head Arita Yoshifu, running with the backing of the DPJ. The JCP’s candidate, Tokutome Michinobu, received 31,000 and 35,000 votes in 2003 and 2005 respectively, and the JCP’s candidate in the Tokyo assembly elections in the district — which is comprised of Itabashi ward — finished second to a Komeito candidate with 31,000 votes.
In the thirteenth district, LDP incumbent Kamoshita Ichiro, who won the district in 1996, 2000, and 2005 while losing narrowly in 2003, faces DPJ newcomer Hirayama Tairo, running his first race. The JCP may play a factor in Kamoshita’s winning: the JCP has taken roughly 30,000 votes in the past two elections, and finished ahead of DPJ candidates in Adachi ward (half of which comprises the thirteenth) last month.
In the seventeenth district, LDP incumbent Hirasawa Katsuei won by nearly 100,000 votes in 2005 and nearly doubled the vote total of his DPJ challenger in 2003. His DPJ challenger in this election is Hayakawa Kumiko, a local assemblywoman in Tokyo’s Katsushika ward. Hirasawa should win reelection, although perhaps by a smaller margin this year.
In the twenty-third district, the LDP incumbent, Ito Kosuke, has served nine terms in the Diet and has represented the district since its creation. He won a relatively narrow victory in 2003, however, suggesting that the DPJ could succeed against Ito, despite running political newcomer Kushibuchi Mari. An encouraging sign for the LDP in the district is that the LDP/Komeito vote in the area in last month’s Tokyo assembly elections matched the DPJ vote. The JCP, having received 23,000 and 27,000 votes in 2003 and 2005 respectively, could make the difference in the twenty-third.
In the twenty-fifth district, incumbent Inoue Shinji, seeking his third term, may have a close race — he won his seat for the first time in 2003 by 9,000 votes — but in this race he faces the PNP’s Masago Taro, running for public office for the first time, and the JCP’s Suzuki Osamu. Inoue should be able to win again.
The DPJ has the upper hand in eleven districts. The DPJ’s candidates in these districts generally share something in common: most of them are defeated incumbents from 2005 looking to regain seats that had previously represented, often for more than one term. In the first district, Kaeda Banri, who defeated incumbent finance minister Yosano Kaoru in 2000 and 2003, will likely retake the seat, perhaps by a wider margin than in previous elections.
In the second district, the DPJ’s Nakayama Yoshikatsu, who won this district in 2000 and 2003 after winning it in a by-election in 1999, will presumably defeat incumbent Fukaya Takashi, the LDP candidate defeated by Nakayama in 2000 and 2003.
In the third district, the DPJ’s Matsubara Jin, who won the district in 2000 and 2003 and won a PR seat in 2005, will retake the seat from LDP incumbent Ishihara Hirotaka.
In the fifth district, the DPJ’s Tezuka Yoshio will battle LDP challenger Sato Yukari, who won in Gifu in 2005 but was turfed out and will instead run in the seat being vacated by the LDP’s Kosugi Takashi. Sato may be one of the LDP’s glamorous stars, but she is moving into a district in which the DPJ candidate has run in every election since 1996, having won it in 2000 and 2003. Tezuka should win the seat back for the DPJ.
In the sixth district, LDP incumbent Ochi Takao won the seat in 2005 by merely 6,000 votes over the then-DPJ incubment Komiyama Yoko, who had won decisively in 2000 and 2003. Komiyama won a PR seat in 2005, and should win the district again this year.
In the seventh district, the DPJ candidate is rising star Nagatsuma Akira, who won the seat in 2000 and 2003. He lost to LDP incumbent Matsumoto Fumiaki in 2005, but won a PR seat — and should retake the SMD this year.
In the nineteenth district, the DPJ candidate is Suematsu Yoshinori, who won the district in 1996, 2000, and 2003 before being relegated to a PR seat by LDP incumbent Matsumoto Yohei in 2005. Matsumoto won the seat by a mere 5,000 votes, suggesting Suematsu will reclaim the seat this year.
In the twentieth district, the DPJ candidate is Kato Koichi, who won the district in 2000 and 2003 but lost by 5,000 votes in 2005 to the LDP’s Kihara Seiji and won a PR seat instead. Kato should regain the seat easily.
In the twenty-first district, the DPJ candidate is Nagashima Akihisa, who won the district in 2003 but lost in 2005 by 11,000 votes to LDP incumbent Ogawa Yuichi. Nagashima will likely retake the seat.
In the twenty-second district, the DPJ’s Yamahana Ikuo, who won the seat in 2000 and 2003, lost to the LDP’s Ito Tatsuya, who had previously won the district in 1996. Ito, running in the district in 2003, had done well enough to win a PR seat, which suggests that this year’s election may be close — but Yamahana should benefit from the national trend to win the seat.
In the fourth district, DPJ newcomer Fujita Norihiko will try to unseat LDP incumbent Taira Masaaki, elected for the first time in 2005. A Koizumi child who faced a divided field in 2005, Taira may have a hard time holding the seat against the DPJ.
In the eighth district, the LDP’s incumbent is Ishihara Nobuteru, who was already dealt a blow by last month’s election results in Tokyo. Ishihara has won the seat comfortably in the past, but the backlash against the LDP will at least make Ishihara work for his reelection this year. He faces SDPJ candidate Hosaka Nobuto, who is backed by the other opposition parties.
In the tenth district, Koike Yuriko will try to hold the seat she won in 2005 as a Koizumi assassin. The DPJ candidate and postal rebel Kobayashi Koki divided the vote, combining for nearly 91,000 votes to Koike’s 109,000 votes. Kobayashi has now joined the DPJ and will be running as PR candidate, leaving DPJ newcomer Ebata Takako to run. The JCP’s Yamamoto Toshie could make the difference in the race.
In the twelfth district, Komeito leader Ota Akihiro will face an assassin of his own, the DPJ’s Aoki Ai (continuing the DPJ trend of using young women to run against older male candidates). Aoki, currently a member of the upper house, previously held a PR seat in the lower house from Chiba and faces a vulnerable heavyweight in Ota: Ota won handily in 2005, but won by just under 5,000 votes in 2003. The JCP’s Ikeuchi Saori could make the difference in the race.
In the fourteenth district, the LDP’s Matsushima Midori will be seeking her third term. In 2003 she fought a close race with her DPJ challenger, in part because the Conservative Party was also fielding a candidate. In 2005, however, her vote total was just a bit over the amount of votes combined between her and the CP candidate in 2003. Her DPJ challenger this year is Sumida ward assemblyman Kimura Taketsuka.
The fifteenth district features a rematch between the LDP’s Kimura Ben and the DPJ’s Azuma Shozo. Azuma lost by 11,000 votes in 2003 and by a more substantial margin in 2005, but in 2003 he shared the field with Kakizawa Koji, an independent who received nearly 50,000 votes. Kakizawa Mito, his son, intends to run, but given that he was forced to resign his Tokyo assembly seat after being arrested for driving under the influence, it seems unlikely that he will be a factor in the face.
The sixteenth district also features a race that was close in 2003 due to the presence of an independent candidate. LDP incumbent Shimamura Yoshinobu, a nine-time incumbent, won by 10,000 votes in 2003 and a larger margin in 2005. His DPJ opponent this year is Hatsushika Akihiro, a Tokyo assemblyman, who should benefit from the national trend and the absence of an independent dividing the field further. That said, Hatsushika finished behind the Komeito and LDP candidates in last month’s assembly election, suggesting that he might have a hard time overcoming Shimamura.
In the twenty-fourth district, the LDP’s Hagiuda Koichi and the DPJ’s Akutsu Yukihiko will battle for the third time. Akutsu won the seat against LDP candidate Kobayashi Tamon in 2000, lost by 2,000 votes to Hagiuda in 2003 (winning a PR seat), and then lost by 45,000 votes in 2005. Naturally the JCP’s 21,000 votes in 2003 made the difference in a close race. Hagiuda will likely depend on Komeito votes to be reelected. The district, which contains Hachioji city, elected five candidates in July to the Tokyo assembly: the leader was the Komeito candidate, followed by the DPJ candidate, the JCP candidate, and two LDP candidates. The LDP and Komeito candidates combined to receive 107,619 votes; the DPJ candidate received 34,302 votes. With the JCP candidate’s receiving 31,316 votes last month (compared with 26,233 in the 2005 general election), Akutsu faces an uphill battle.
Once again using the d’Hondt method simulator, Yomiuri‘s latest polling data, and turnout data from 2005, it is possible that the DPJ will win ten seats, the LDP five, and Komeito and the JCP one each.
The result — based on guesses for the tossups — would be fifteen seats for the LDP, twenty-five for the DPJ, and one each for Komeito and the JCP. The DPJ would not quite equal the LDP’s 2005 landslide with this return, but it would nevertheless be an impressive return.