July 3, 2017 - 16:52 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party suffered an historic defeat in an election in the Japanese capital on Sunday, July 2, signaling trouble ahead for the premier, who has suffered from slumping support because of a favoritism scandal, Reuters reveals.
On the surface, the Tokyo Metropolitan assembly election was a referendum on Governor Yuriko Koike's year in office, but the dismal showing for Abe's party is also a stinging rebuke of his 4-1/2-year-old administration.
Koike's Tokyo Citizens First party and its allies took 79 seats in the 127-seat assembly.
The LDP won a mere 23, its worst-ever results, compared with 57 before the election.
"We must recognize this as an historic defeat," former defense minister Shigeru Ishiba was quoted as saying by NHK.
"Rather than a victory for Tokyo Citizens First, this is a defeat for the LDP," said Ishiba, who is widely seen as an Abe rival within the ruling party.
Past Tokyo elections have been bellwethers for national trends. A 2009 Tokyo poll in which the LDP won just 38 seats was followed by its defeat in a general election that year, although this time no lower house poll need be held until late 2018.
Koike, a media-savvy ex-defense minister and former LDP member, took office a year ago as the first female governor in the capital, defying the local LDP chapter to run and promising to reform governance of a megacity with a population of 13.7 million and an economy bigger than the Netherlands'.