Don’t you wish that politics and elections could be simpler? You’re in luck! In this episode we’ve taken the upcoming house of councillors elections and used the latest hi-tech visual effects to break it down. Really – take a look!
Timothy: Welcome back! The upper-house elections are a week away and it might benefit us to review what the upper-house is; what it is comprised of; and what’s potentially at stake.
Michael: The upper-house, the House of Councillors, has 242 seats, half of them are up for election every three years. So, 121 seats are available at this time. At the present time, the Abe administration has 114 seats: that’s the LDP. With the coalition partner it has a majority: 114 is less than 121, but with the Komeito it has over the 121 limit. So, it’s been able to pass all kinds of legislation as it wants. Now, the number everybody’s talking about is 162, which is the two-thirds majority in the House of Councillors. If they reach 162 seats after this election, then that opens the Pandora’s box of moving from a discussion of possibly changing the constitution to actually having the power to do so. I wish there was a way we could show this.
Timothy: Well, I don’t know if maybe we had like visual aids, or what does the Japanese television do?
Michael: They do the cheesy stuff with actual objects, you know…
Timothy: Could we come up with something like that? It might help us explain it. What do you have there?
Michael: This is the House of Councillors. What you have is the House of Councillors class of 2013; what I have is the House of Councillors class of 2016.
Timothy: This is the way the distribution of LDP and various parties were three years ago.
Michael: That’s right: after the election took place in 2013, we have a big LDP majority and we have the DPJ getting really trounced. Here’s the Komeito, the alliance partner, and here are the Communists which did really well, and then these all these minor parties which have a small number of seats. You can see the big issue is the huge disparity between the LDP and the DPJ post-election. Now, this over here, what I’ve got, is the election that’s happening this year: class of 2016. This is almost equal, this is really the last place in Japanese politics where there’s a two-party system. The DPJ and the LDP are practically equal and then we have the Komeito, and the Communists, and all these seats are up for grabs this year. Now, why is this significant? In 2013, we had almost exactly the same kind of situation. What you have over here as we have now in terms of the pre-election polls. The pre-election polls are saying that people really don’t like the DPJ and really like the LDP: they’re running at about a four to one ratio, four times as many people say they’re going to vote for the LDP as say they’re going to vote for the DPJ. Though those numbers haven’t changed in three years and they certainly haven’t changed over the last year no matter how much and whatever the DP has done: it’s merged with another party; it’s working in a four-part alliance… Nevertheless, its numbers have not gone nowhere. Now, what happens in that case to these two columns? Let’s look at what happened in 2013, would that be okay?
Timothy: That’s good!
Michael: All right, let’s do it. We have this one: now, this is the situation that existed in the 2013 election. The DPJ had a huge majority of seats and the LDP was fighting it, but it’s still pretty pretty close to a two-party system, very equal.
Timothy: Put it into context: Mr.Abe was just in his first term of office, after the DPJ was in power.
Michael: That’s right and this was the first set of DPJ office holders to come up for election in the House of Councillors, after the LDP wiped them out of the House of Representatives.
Timothy: And, returned to power Mr. Abe was Prime Minister.
Michael: That’s right. So, this first House of Councilors election, what happens to the DPJ votes? That many gone: they lost 27 and in that election the LDP picked up 31. Coming back with a vengeance and the thing is this group that I got here, they have the same polling numbers prior to the election. I bet that this one over here is going to look a lot like this one post-election. And, if so doing something really interesting happens in my view. If you still looking at this…
Timothy: Those must be the undecided and unaffiliated voters!
Michael: No, this is the number of seats that the LDP needs to be able to form a government by itself. Now, I will take this one and put it next to the seats that aren’t up for election ,and if you could handle hand me the ones that are up for election.. they’re almost there already. So, for this election, for me, has always been them getting from this point to this point and it’s not far. Considering what happened in 2013, they’re going to make it and that’s gonna put a big hole in the alliance between the coalition of the LDP and the Komeito.
Timothy: Can I see your alignment once again? So, this means that were the LDP to win all the seats that they are pretty much assured to win, all they need is, they don’t need the Komeito, they could pick up some other party as a alliance partner!
Michael: They don’t need to do that! Remember, they won 31 seats last time: they were more than enough to reach that position. This is a done deal in my opinion.
Timothy: So, their partnership with Komeito is looking like it’s kind of on the skids.
Michael: Well, it might be. But, what I don’t have enough blocks for, and I don’t think Mr. Abe has enough blocks for, is a 162. That would be a tower that won’t even fit in my television frame and I don’t think Mr. Abe has a chance at that.
Timothy: That’s for two thirds?
Michael:That’s the two thirds for constitutional revision. That’s the code, that’s the set of blocks we have to pay attention to.
Timothy: If you’re ever wondering what we’re doing when we’re not filming Tokyo On Fire, this should give you something of a hint. This is a very critical election for the upper-house, please stay tuned!