IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Japan's ruling conservatives easily keep majority in parliamentary election

The Liberal Democratic Party's strong results defied expectations and are likely to embolden Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who took power only a month ago.
Japan's Election Results Counted In At Liberal Democratic Party Headquarters
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, third from right, with other members of the Liberal Democratic Party as he puts rosettes by the names of winning candidates at the party headquarters in Tokyo on Sunday.Getty Images
/ Source: Reuters

TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's ruling Liberal Democratic Party defied expectations and held its strong majority in Sunday's parliamentary election, solidifying his position in a fractious party and allowing him to ramp up stimulus.

The conservative LDP emerged with fewer seats in the powerful lower house than it won in the last election in 2017. But the LDP maintained its single-party majority in a big victory for Kishida, who took power only a month ago.

The result was at odds with expectations and initial exit polls that suggested the LDP, hurt by perceptions it mishandled the coronavirus pandemic, would need to rely on its junior coalition party for a majority.

Kishida, a soft-spoken former banker who has struggled to shake off an image that he lacks charisma, is also likely to be emboldened by the win.

Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics

Kishida, who called the election soon after taking the top post, has hewed to traditional policies of the party's right wing, pushing to increase military spending. But he has also promised to address wealth inequality, touting a "new capitalism" that has stoked concern among investors.

In the end, the LDP claimed 261 seats against the 276 it held before the election — an absolute stable majority that will give it control of parliamentary committees and ease passage of legislation, including key budget proposals.

Kishida's publicly stated goal had been for the coalition to keep a majority, at least 233 seats, of the 465 in the lower house — although that was widely seen as a lowball target, given the junior coalition partner Komeito had 29 seats before the election. Together the LDP and Komeito secured 293 seats.

"The overall trend is in favor of stability. The LDP cleared the hurdles it absolutely had to," said Tobias Harris, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

"We'll see a lot of stimulus," he said.

Japanese stocks cheered the victory, with the Nikkei up 2.38 percent soon after trade began.

A poorer showing would have heightened expectations that Kishida could follow predecessor Yoshihide Suga in becoming another short-term premier.