Conservative Victories Give Nakasone Political Boost With AM-Japan-Nakasone
TOKYO (AP) _ Conservative and centrist candidates won most of the mayoral contests in local elections, helping Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone rebound from recent political setbacks in time for his talks in Washington this week.
The national newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported Monday that candidates backed jointly by Nakasone’s conservative Liberal Democrats and centrist parties won 89 of 131 mayoral posts in Sunday’s elections. Nine candidates won who were backed by reformists, who oppose Nakasone. Candidates affiliated with other opposition and conservative groups took 32 and there was one winning candidate supported by the Socialists and Communists.
For 34 of the 131 posts, candidates ran unopposed.
Votes for less influential local assemblies still were being counted Monday afternoon, but opposition candidates were reported scoring some gains there.
″We were able to achieve rather reasonable election results,″ Noboru Takeshita, secretary-general of the Lberal Democratic Party, said. ″But we have had a number of setbacks in outlying assembly races, and we would like to try to strengthen our organization there.″
A report in the English-language Asahi Evening News said Liberal Democrat incumbents had lost more than 100 municipal assembly seats. There were a total of 11,600 assembly seats at stake throughout the country.
An official at the Home Affairs Ministry said final results in those races were not expected until Tuesday morning.
Nakasone, who is also the Liberal Democratic Party president, did not comment on the elections in a news conference with foreign reporters Monday morning.
Sunday’s elections were to decide positions in 40 percent of Japan’s cities, towns and villages, said Naofumi Hida of the Home Affairs Ministry’s Election Division. All local elections are not held in the same year.
Heavy rains Sunday contributed to the lowest voter turnout since World War II, Hida said. The average turnout in mayoral voting was 68.20 percent, while for assemblies it was 71.28 percent, he said.
In an earlier round of prefectural, or provincial, elections April 12, the Liberal Democrats lost two key governorships and also lost heavily in prefectural assembly races.
The results were seen as a voter rejection of Nakasone’s proposed 5 percent sales tax, part of a tax reform plan that also included corporate and personal income tax cuts.
To end opposition delaying tactics prompted by the sales tax proposal, which were delaying passage of the fiscal 1987 budget, the Liberal Democrats agreed last week to in effect shelve the sales tax plan.
After that setback, political analysts said Sunday’s elections were Nakasone’s last chance to regain political stature before he leaves Wednesday for Washington.
With the sales tax issue out of the way, traditional Liberal Democratic Party supporters voted for the conservatives in Sunday’s balloting.