- Abe’s LDP seen gaining from sympathy vote
- Former premier gunned down two days before poll
- Strong showing would strengthen PM Kishida’s rule
TOKYO/NARA, Japan, July 10 (Reuters) – Japanese voters went to the polls on Sunday for a parliamentary election that may give the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) a surge of support after the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a dominant politician and power broker.
Abe, Japan’s longest-serving modern leader, was gunned down on Friday during a speech in support of a local candidate in the western city of Nara, a killing the political establishment condemned as an attack on democracy itself. read more
Turnout as of 2 p.m. (0500 GMT) was 18.8%, the Ministry of Internal Affairs said, up from 18.0% at the same point during the last upper house election in 2019. Some 15.3% of voters had cast absentee ballots by Friday, according to government data.
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Polls close at 8 p.m. (1100 GMT), when media exit poll results are expected.
“We just lost Mr. Abe. I would like the LDP to win many votes so that they can run the country in a stable manner,” said Sakae Fujishiro, a 67-year-old pensioner who cast his vote for the ruling party in Tokyo’s eastern Edogawa ward.
Elections for seats in parliament’s less powerful upper house are typically seen as a referendum on the sitting government. Opinion polls before the assassination already pointed to a strong showing for the ruling bloc led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, an Abe protege.
As the nation mourns, the LDP and its junior coalition partner Komeito could gain from a potential wave of sympathy votes, political analysts said.
“The ruling LDP-Komeito coalition was already on course for a solid victory,” James Brady of the Teneo consultancy said in a note. “A wave of sympathy votes now could boost the margin of victory.”
There was an increased police presence for Kishida at a campaign event in a city southwest of Tokyo and a metal detection scanner was installed at the venue, an unusual security measure in Japan. read more
Nara police said they had seized a motorcycle and a vehicle belonging to the murder suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami.
From the vehicle, police retrieved trays wrapped in aluminium foil that the suspect said he had used for drying gunpowder, and wooden boards with holes that he said he had used for test-firing his homemade weapon, police said.
The unemployed 41-year-old told police he spent months planning the attack, accusing the former prime minister of links to a religious cult that he blames for his mother’s financial ruin, according to Japanese media. read more
Nara police told a news conference on Sunday the suspect told them he arrived at a station near the scene more than an hour before the attack and passed time by visiting shopping complexes.
A strong showing at the polls could help Kishida consolidate his rule, giving the former banker from Hiroshima a chance to carry out his goal of boosting military spending. It…