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Japan Party Gains Seat in Election

March 15, 1998

TOKYO, Japan (AP) _ Japan’s governing Liberal Democratic Party gained one seat in Parliament’s lower house Sunday in a by-election closely watched for reaction to scandals involving the Finance Ministry and central bank.

The vote also was seen as a barometer of the political climate ahead of important upper house elections in July.

Masakazu Kuranari, 46, a son of the late former Foreign Minister Tadashi Kuranari, won 68,443 votes to 52,438 for Izumi Yamasaki of the Democratic Party, who also had backing from other opposition parties. Yoshinori Terada of the Communist Party won 13,860 votes.

The election in Nagasaki state in southwestern Japan was to fill the vacancy left when Takeo Nishioka of the opposition Liberal Party resigned to run for Nagasaki governor on Feb. 22. He lost.

With the victory, Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto’s Liberal Democrats had 260 seats in the 500-seat House of Representatives.

Kuranari is an employee of the Mitsubishi Research Institute, which makes economic studies, and a senior official of the Liberal Democrats’ Nagasaki branch office.

His father was foreign minister in 1986 and 1987.

The election committee said 38.14 percent of 357,431 eligible voters cast ballots, down from 58.62 percent in the last regular House of Representative election in October 1996.

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