Japan will hold parliamentary elections for 121 of the 245 seats of its upper house—the House of Councillors—today.
The election is overshadowed by Friday’s assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was shot and killed while campaigning for his ruling centre-right Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the western city of Nara.
Polls prior to the assassination strongly favored the LDP to win the lion’s share of seats. Abe’s tragic death is likely to increase voter turnout from a shocked nation, potentially solidifying the LDP’s overall majority in the Upper House. This will be a boon for LDP Prime Minister Fumio Kishida who seeks to win over the various LDP factions with a good election result today. By doing so, Kishida aims to stamp his mark on a party still full of Abe loyalists. Given Abe’s noted pro-military policies while in power, Kishida’s proposal to increase defence spending to 2% of GDP is likely to win approval from Abe’s base.
An increased electoral majority in the Upper House will pave an easier path for traditionally controversial defence spending legislation. However, China, North Korea and Russia will likely decry such moves. Consequently, Russo-Japanese tensions over the disputed South Kuril Islands may increase.
Download the Daily Brief app to stay ahead of geopolitics with daily, short, forward-looking analysis of geopolitical events before they hit the headlines.
John is a Senior Analyst with an interest in Indo-Pacific geopolitics. Master of International Relations (Australian National University) graduate with study focus on the Indo-Pacific. Qualified lawyer (University of Auckland, NZ) with experience in post-colonial Pacific & NZ legal systems.