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Japan Ruling Party Wins Elections

February 22, 1998

TOKYO (AP) _ In a boost for Japan’s beleaguered ruling coalition, two candidates backed by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto’s Liberal Democratic Party won in elections Sunday in southwestern Japan.

Kenjiro Kaneko, 53, was elected governor of Nagasaki Prefecture, about 607 miles southwest of Tokyo, with the support of the LDP and its coalition partner, the New Party Sakigake.

The LDP’s Daisuke Miyajima won a by-election for the Nagasaki parliamentary seat left vacant after Kaneko resigned to run in the gubernatorial election.

The results are sure to come as a relief to the ruling party whose approval ratings have plunged to all-time lows because of a prolonged economic slump and scandals involving LDP politicians.

The polls were widely seen as a barometer of the political climate ahead of important upper house parliamentary elections in July.

Kaneko won 412,342 votes against 295,376 votes for Takeo Nishioka, a 62-year-old former lower house member who was backed by the opposition Liberal Party, the New Peace party and the Reformers Network party.

Kaneko will succeed Isamu Takada, 71, who retired after serving four terms.

In the parliamentary by-election, Miyajima, a former prefectural assemblyman, won 85,769 votes against 67,377 votes for Kuro Masuda of opposition Liberal Party.

Shoji Yoshimura of the Social Democratic Party, had 37,504 votes and Hideki Shimizu of the Communist Party of Japan had 6,312 votes.

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