By John Chan:
Japan: By-election defeat points to growing crisis of Fukuda government
2 May 2008
The victory of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in the lower house by-election for Yamaguchi prefecture on April 26 has delivered a major blow to embattled Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
The LDP candidate, Shigetaro Yamamoto, gained just 94,404 votes, much less than the DPJ’s Hideo Hiraoka, who won 116,348 votes. The results were in line with pre-election polls. The election was widely regarded as a referendum on the Fukuda government, whose public poll rating has fallen to 25 percent—the same level as his predecessor, Shinzo Abe, prior to his resignation last September. At the time of his installation, Fukuda enjoyed a 70 percent of approval rating. Now there are calls in the LDP to replace him.