Now as which candidates will win the 73 district seats up for grabs on July 11, a number of factors will affect the outcomes.
- In this telegenic ages is the candidate a handsome, outgoing, energetic person or a warmed over lump of human flesh? (Then again, in 1995 the elfin Aoshima Yukio, a member of the House of Councillors, ran for Governor of Tokyo by making only the mandatory taped five minute free televised speech, then spending the rest of the campaign period locked in his apartment -- and still won.)
- Does he or she have any scandals or embarrassing statements to live down?
(Then again, in 2004 Suzuki Muneo and in 2007 Tsujimoto Hitomi, both convicted felons at the times, both finished just out of the running in their House of Councillors district races. Both are now members of the House of Representatives)
- Is he or she an LDP hopeful in Eastern Japan or a Democrat in Western Japan, as the country is largely split into a Democratic East and and an LDP West?
Nevertheless, there are some questions that seemingly will have significant impacts, particularly in the rural, single seat prefectures, where the reversal of Ozawa Ichiro's reforms of the DPJ will tend to support a reversion to historic norms in voting patterns.
- Where will the estimated 300,000 to 1,000,000 post office-related voters cast their ballots? It is not likely that they will plunk down their vote for the Democratic Party of Japan after the government let the postal reform bill die on Wednesday. However, can the postmasters and their unions go back to supporting LDP candidates, seeing as how the LDP was the party that passed the original privatization law, in overwhelming fashion and furthermore, lacks the votes in the House of Representatives to be a force capable of sponsoring legislation in the post office's favor?
- How will the farmers vote? They received their price supports, as promised in the 2009 DPJ manifesto and the current manifesto promises continuing efforts. However, the guarantor of the farmers actually receiving similar supports in the future was former DPJ Secretary-General Ozawa Ichiro, who is gone from the scene, at least for no. The new DPJ leadership team seems to be entirely the sort of urban- suburban- white collar cost-cutting and budget rationalization crowd that will target farmers and other primary good producers as inordinately well treated members of the public.
Should farmers, fisherman and foresters trust that the Kan Naoto/Edano Yukio-led DPJ will continue to coddle agriculture in the name of preserving food security? Or will the debacle of the foor-and-mouth disease in Miyazaki prefecture prompt every single farmer in the land to abandon the DJP?
- The government of Hatoyama Yukio failed to follow through on the DPJ campaign promises regarding the elimination of expressway tolls and rescinding of the temporary fuel taxes. Unsurprisingly, the nation's parcel delivery and short- and medium-haul trucking industry is furious. Will they go back to voting for the LDP, even though the LDP has no fiscally sound way of satisfying the requests of the trucking industry?
- Are the voters still in the "let's throw the bums out" mood they have been in since pretty much 2001? Due to the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, should the DPJ can pretty much write off Kumamoto and Kagoshima Prefectures, the neighbors of the stricken Miyazaki? Will Aoki Mikio's selection of his son to take over his seat in Shimane Prefecture blow up into a minor public relations fiasco for the LDP in the Chugoku region?
- Will a relatively early election increase turnout, generally seen as a plus for the DPJ? July 11 is well before the midsummer break for the schools; before the time workers start to leave their electoral districts on their summer vacation; and before much of central Japan heats up like a furnace, wilting both campaigners and voter patience?
However, the big kahuna in this whole election -- and the only reason that Ozawa Ichiro was able to cling to the position of Secretary-General for so long, despite every indication that his presence in a leadership position was unacceptable for 80% of the electorate -- is the LDP's district performance in the likely absence of electoral cooperation between the LDP and the New Komeito.
Look at these two sets of numbers:
2009 House of Representatives
Total votes for party proportional seats,
DPJ 29,844,799Total votes for party candidates,
New Komeitō 8,054,007
by affiliation of candidate
New Komeitō 782,784
In 2009, when the LDP and the New Komeito were coalition partners, LDP district candidates received a net 8 million votes from New Komeito voters - a full one quarter of all votes cast in the districts for LDP candidates.
If the members of the New Komeito do not ride to the rescue of the LDP at the last minute, it is unlikely the LDP will defend all of its current seats or seize a single DPJ seat in the upcoming election.
This must have been Ozawa's ace in the hole - the reason why the DPJ's plummeting poll numbers did not fret him.
I will do a district-by-district run down for the country...but it hardly seems worth the trouble. Without the New Komeito by its side, the LDP is set up for a huge fall.