In line with the overall nationwide trend, voters chose DPJ candidate (and ryokan heir) Tairo Hirayama to represent Tokyo’s 13th district (covering all but the western end of Adachi-ku). Hirayama beat LDP incumbent Ichiro Kamoshita by a small margin of 3,000 votes. Kamoshita will stay in the lower house as a proportional representation member, which will make things awkward if they ever run into each other in the halls of the Diet building.
In a statement on his website written last night, Hirayama adopted the same cautious tone as PM-to-be Hatoyama. He thanked supporters but said he considers the votes to be not for him personally but instead as votes for a change in government. Since he had already taken some painkillers to combat his lower back pain (ぎっくり腰 a new vocab word for me) he expected to stay up all night before heading to Kitasenju Station this morning to thank voters for their support.
At 62.82%, voter turnout in Tokyo’s 13th was lower than the 69% national average and not much higher than turnout in the July Tokyo assembly election.
Hirayama might want to shake hands with Kazumasa Fujiyama, his rival candidate from the Happiness Realization Party. Though Fujiyama received less than 3,000 votes or 1.1% of the total, that was just about in line with Hirayama’s margin of victory. Had those voters gone LDP the race would have been much closer. Even considering that the HRP voters were almost all Happy Science followers, Hirayama should thank his spirit guide that Okawa didn’t decide to throw his weight behind the LDP this time around.
Nationwide, the HRP failed to win a single seat or even surpass 1% of the popular vote in most districts. Without any significant voter support, the party stands to lose over 1 billion yen in security deposits for the more than 300 candidates it fielded.
Happy Science’s political movement, born of guru Ryuho Okawa’s vision of a nuclear holocaust, has failed. At one point it appears they considered giving up before the election, but in the end this was a bad idea that took on a life of its own. In a personality cult, once the leader sets his mind to something it can be very hard to stop. The leader himself may hesitate to admit to a mistake out of fear he’ll lose credibility, and of course his followers who think he’s a divine being would never go against his wishes.
I hope the authorities will keep a close eye on this group as it’s possible Okawa may still feel the urgent need to save Japan from certain doom by taking control of the government.
Perhaps the biggest national story set in Adachi-ku is the DPJ’s defeat of New Komeito President Akihiro Ota in Tokyo’s 12th district (covering Kita-ku and the western tip of Adachi-ku) was yet another humbling setback for the ruling coalition. Former DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa had considered running against him but decided to field a different challenger, singer and DPJ upper house member Ai Aoki (see photo above) instead. It ended up working, and Ota, who had not run in a PR spot, will have to turn in his MP badge (and of course resign as New Komeito leader).
In fact, nationally the New Komeito lost in every single-member district. The 21 members it will send to the next Diet session were all PR candidates.
An ebullient Ai Aoki, winner in Tokyo’s 12th district (photo from Jiji Press)