Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had failed in its attempt to increase its parliamentary representation through an early general election.
Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had failed in its attempt to increase its parliamentary representation through an early general election. With all 511 seats in Sunday's (7 October election declared, the LDP ended up with a total of 248 lower house seats, one less than before.
SYNOPSIS: Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira called the election a year earlier than constitutionally necessary to seek what he called "A stable majority". He identified his election campaign with the number 271 -- the number of seats needed to gain control over all parliamentary subcommittees and ease the passage of government bills. When Mr. Ohira cast his vote he was confident of making 271 and gaining the mandate to pass some tough legislation.
But when the votes were counted, they told a different story. Every pre election survey had predicted Mr. Ohira would consolidate his majority in the lower house making it easier for him to introduce legislation and deal with Japan's serious problems of oil dependency, inflation and government spending.
Even on election night, Japanese media predicted Ohira's election gamble would pay off. But with the final votes in, the LDP was left with only 248 seats -- eight short of a majority.
The main opposition party, the Japan Socialist Party (JSP) also fell back in the poll. At the dissolution of the lower house, last month the JSP commanded 117 seats, now it has lost 10. If its chairman Inchiyo Asukata was disappointed in the result, he didn't show it.
In true Japanese tradition, Mr. Asukata marked his seat with a red rose when he knew he had won it back.
At the LDP's headquarters, supporters were trying to make the best of the results. The LDP can rely on a coalition with the Democratic Socialist Party, and their 35 seats guarantee the government's survival. That at least was cause for some celebration.
Mr. Ohira did not reach the hoped for number of 271 seats and later, when the LDP leader left for a news conference there was speculation that his campaign call for higher taxes hurt his chances. Observers say the worst blow to the LDP has been psychological, but Mr. Ohira rejected the idea he should take the responsibility for the election setback. The LDP has at the moment no obvious successor for its leader, so Mr. Ohira, too is still safe after the election.