Recent local elections have tended to reinforce the dominant message from the public opinion polls: the Japanese electorate doesn’t like the LDP. The Sunday mayoral election in Yokosuka confirmed a less prominent but equally potent finding in the polls: the powerful pull of none of the above. The 64 year-old incumbent had everything going for him: the LDP and DPJ both supported him—likewise the New Komeito—and local-boy-made-good Koizumi campaigned hard for him. The winner? Yuto Yoshida, a 33 year-old municipal assemblyman. The Communist-Social Democrat candidate, with less than 2% of the votes, was not a factor. There does not seem to have been any single outstanding issue except the evils of incumbency.
Yoshida has a good chance of joining the ranks of the mayors and governors—Governor Hashimoto in Osaka and Mayor Nakata in Yokohama for starters—recent past and present to whom the Japanese electorate will look to for national leadership if it finds a DPJ-led administration lacking in inspiration. In which case the mainstream media is sure to pile on.
Incidentally, this is very bad news for Koizumi’s son, who wants to take over his father’s seat.