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Monday, 25th April 2016
In General Japan News,

President Abe's party wins by-election

In a closely fought by-election in Hokkaido on Sunday (April 24th), president Shinzo Abe’s ruling party came out on top.

The battle for the seat on the northern island was seen by many as a chance to get an early indication of how voters are feeling ahead of the Upper House election in July.

Yoshiaki Wada, standing for the Liberal Democratic Party, earned 135,842 votes, with his closest rival Maki Ikeda taking 123,517 for the Democratic Party.

The by-election was staged to replace Nobutaka Machimura, who died from a stroke last year.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga made a statement today (April 25th) that the win was evidence of approval from the public for the administration’s efforts in strengthening the economy.

Aides had admitted prior to the Hokkaido by-election that the result would influence the decision as to whether to call a vote for the powerful Lower House to run simultaneously with the Upper House election in the summer.

Recent opinion polls have shown steady support for Abe, but the need for an efficient recovery plan in southern Japan in the wake of a series of earthquakes may mean he delays the vote.

Hirotada Asakawa, an independent political analyst, told Bloomberg: "They are in no position to hold a general election. I think the tide is turning away from a ‘double’ election’."

He added that the decision as to whether the additional vote is held must be made before the Group of Seven summit at the end of next month.

At present, Abe’s coalition has a ruling majority in both houses of parliament, following a convincing win in 2014’s general election.

This means he does not need to call an election until 2018, but could announce an early vote if it were to benefit him politically.

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