TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) suffered a historic defeat in the Tokyo assembly election that was held amid scandals and a gaffe by a cabinet minister, final results showed Monday.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike’s Tokyoites First and its allies gained 79 seats in the 127-seat assembly, while the LDP, which had held 57 seats before the race, won just 23, far below its previous record low of 38 in 2009.
Tokyoites First was recently established by Koike, a former LDP lawmaker who once served as defense minister in Abe’s first administration.
Koike took office as the capital’s first female governor in August, and Sunday’s assembly race was largely seen as a referendum on her first year in office.
The crushing defeat would bode ill for Abe, who is eager to change the nation’s pacifist constitution.
On Monday, Abe vowed to “regain people’s trust,” he told reporters.
“Nearly five years have passed since the start of this administration, and there has been sharp criticism that perhaps the Abe administration has become slack. I think we have to take that seriously,” the premier said.
Abe himself has come under fire after a former bureaucrat recently revealed the premier’s office had pressured him to push ahead with a heavily subsidized university project involving a longtime friend of Abe’s.
“I believe a variety of problems in national politics have affected the Tokyo assembly election,” Hakubun Shimomura, the head of the LDP chapter in the Japanese capital, told Tokyo MX News late Sunday without elaborating.
Shimomura immediately stepped down from his role in the Tokyo chapter for taking responsibility for the defeat.
Defence Minister Tomomi Inada also came under harsh criticism after she implied in a speech last week that the Defense Ministry and the Japanese military were supporting the LDP.
Another scandal also hit the LDP in late June, as House of Representatives lawmaker Mayuko Toyota left the party following allegations she physically and verbally abused her secretaries.
Weekly magazine Shincho reported a former secretary accused her of beating him and yelling at him, “You baldy,” while driving a car.