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Japanese Communist Party makes strong gains in local elections

The Communist Party gains, however, were a fraction of those made by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

By Elizabeth Shim
Japanese Communist Party makes strong gains in local elections
Well-wishers wave Japan's national flag during a birthday greeting for Emperor Akihito's 81st birthday at the East Plaza, Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan, on December 23, 2014. Japan held local elections nationwide on April 12. File Photo by UPI/Keizo Mori. | License Photo

TOKYO, April 13 (UPI) -- The Japanese Communist Party has won seats in all of the country's 47 prefectural assemblies but the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, or LDP, now holds the greatest number of seats.

Japan's Mainichi Shimbun reported the Japanese Communist Party recaptured seats in key areas, including Kanagawa prefecture, which is part of the Greater Tokyo area, and includes the port city of Yokohama.

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The Communist Party has secured a total of 100 prefectural assembly seats, for the first time in eight years.

Their gains, however, were a fraction of those made by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The LDP won 1,153 seats in the unified local elections on April 12, up from 1,119 seats it took over in 2011.

The Democratic Party of Japan won only 264 prefectural assembly seats, 82 less than in 2011.

The Communist Party's upset had been prefaced by a strong turnout last December and topped its results in 2011, when the party won a total of 80 seats.

The Japan Times reported incumbents won most of the ten gubernatorial races and five mayoral elections.

In the city of Sapporo, however, the opposition's Democratic Party of Japan candidate Katsuhiro Akimoto was elected to his first term as mayor.

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The LDP has taken a majority of seats for the first time since 1991.

The Japan Times reported the elections bode well for the ruling party's prospects in the summer of 2016, when important Upper House elections will be held.

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