2021 Japanese general election

  (Redirected from Next Japanese general election)

The 49th general election of members of the House of Representatives (Japanese: 第49回衆議院議員総選挙, Hepburn: dai-yonjūkyūkai Shūgiin giin sōsenkyo) is scheduled on 31 October 2021,[2] as required by the Constitution of Japan. Voting will take place in all Representatives constituencies of Japan including proportional blocks, in order to appoint Members of Diet to seats in the House of Representatives, the lower house of the National Diet of Japan. As the cabinet has to resign after a general House of Representatives election in the first post-election Diet session (Constitution, Article 70), the lower house election will also lead to a new designation election of the Prime Minister in the Diet, and the appointment of a new cabinet (even if the same ministers are re-appointed). It will be the first general election in the Reiwa era, marking the end of the nine-year Shinzo Abe era and a controversial Suga Cabinet.

2021 Japanese general election

← 2017 31 October 2021

All 465 seats to the House of Representatives of Japan
233 seats needed for a majority
Opinion polls
  Fumio Kishida 2021 (cropped).jpg Yukio Edano In front of Tenjin Twin Building (2020.10.18) (cropped).jpg Natsuo Yamaguchi.jpg
Leader Fumio Kishida Yukio Edano Natsuo Yamaguchi
Party Liberal Democratic Constitutional Democratic Komeito
Leader since 29 September 2021 11 September 2020[a] 8 September 2009
Leader's seat Hiroshima-1st Saitama-5th Not contesting
Last election 290 seats, 33.28% 55 seats, 19.88% 29 seats, 12.51%
Current seats 276 113 29
Seats needed Steady Increase123 Increase204

  Kazuo Shii in SL Square in 2017.jpg Ichiro Matsui and Toranosuke Katayama.png Yuichiro Tamaki IMG 5649-1 20160903 (cropped).jpg
Leader Kazuo Shii Ichirō Matsui and
Toranosuke Katayama
Yuichiro Tamaki
Party Communist Ishin Democratic for the People
Leader since 24 November 2000 2 November 2015 18 December 2020
Leader's seat Minami-Kantō PR Not contesting
(Mayor of Osaka)
Last election 12 seats, 7.90% 11 seats, 6.07% New party[b]
Current seats 12 10 7
Seats needed Increase221 Increase223 Increase226

  Mizuho Fukushima.jpg Tachibana takashi at shinkoiwa station.png Taro Yamamoto 202006 (cropped).jpg
Leader Mizuho Fukushima Takashi Tachibana Tarō Yamamoto
Party Social Democratic NHK Party Reiwa Shinsengumi
Leader since 22 February 2020 17 June 2013 1 April 2019
Leader's seat Not contesting
Not contesting
(Not in office)
Contesting Tokyo PR block[1]
(Not in office)
Last election 2 seats, 1.69% 0 seats, 0.00% New party
Current seats 1 1 1
Seats needed Increase232 Increase232 Increase232

Japan Districts of the House of Representatives map.svg
Parliamentary districts and regional party-list proportional blocks

Incumbent Prime Minister

Fumio Kishida
Liberal Democratic

Election dateEdit

Under the post-occupation interpretation of Article 7 of the Constitution, the cabinet may instruct the Emperor to dissolve the House of Representatives for a snap election. Elections must be held within 40 days after dissolution.[3] The only time in post-war history that the House of Representatives was not dissolved before the end of its term was in 1976. If the House of Representatives completes a full four-year term, the election must be held within 30 days before that,[4] unless the Diet is invoked, in session or about to be closed at the time. The current term is set to end on 21 October.[5]

An extraordinary session of the National Diet is necessary in early October to elect a new prime minister. Depending on when that Diet session closes and if and when the new cabinet dissolves the House of Representatives, possible election dates range from late October to 14 November without dissolution or up to 28 November with dissolution. If the election is held in late October or November, the 2021 election would be the first in post-war history to be held not only at, but after the actual end of term (21 October).[6][7]

On 4 October, new prime minister Fumio Kishida scheduled the election for 31 October, with dissolution of the House of Representatives on 14 October, the final day of the extraordinary Diet session and campaigning set to begin on 19 October.[8]

Previous considerationsEdit

With the 2020 resignation of Shinzo Abe from his position as prime minister due to health issues, speculation rose of the possibility that a snap election would be held before the end of the full term, but this did not happen.[9] Before the resignation announcement of Yoshihide Suga in 2021, the government did consider a plan to hold a general election on 17 October, several days before the expiration of the four-year term for House of Representatives members, government sources said on 30 August.[10]


Following the 2017 general election, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) continued to find itself in a dominant position as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe led the party to a third consecutive victory, the first for a single Prime Minister since 1953.[11] While the LDP's strong showing seemed to suggest momentum for Abe's long-held goal of revising the anti-war Article 9 of the Constitution, the prospect for revision was thwarted due to procedural obstacles in the Diet from opposition parties and the ruling coalition losing its two-thirds majority in the House of Councillors in the 2019 election.[12]

Resignation of Shinzo Abe and election of Yoshihide SugaEdit

Abe's approval ratings suffered in 2018 as several favoritism scandals dominated media coverage, however he was still re-elected as President of the LDP in September 2018 and became the longest-serving Prime Minister in Japanese history on 19 November 2019 and the longest-serving consecutive Prime Minister on 24 August 2020.[13] However, Abe shocked observers when he announced on 28 August 2020 that he would resign the premiership due to a sudden resurgence of his ulcerative colitis. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga was elected the next President of the LDP in September 2020 and succeeded Abe as Prime Minister days later.

Opposition party consolidationEdit

Meanwhile, Japan's many opposition parties remained fractured and disunited. The Constitutional Democratic Party, seeking to establish itself as the primary centre-left opposition party against the LDP, merged with majorities of the Democratic Party for the People and the Social Democratic Party as well as several independent lawmakers in late 2020, officially re-organizing as a new party while retaining the same name and Yukio Edano as leader.[14] Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike's national party Kibō no Tō was dissolved in May 2018 after it merged with the Democratic Party to form the Democratic Party for the People, while Koike herself was re-elected in a landslide in 2020 as an independent. The period since 2017 also saw the creation of Reiwa Shinsengumi, a left-wing populist party formed by former actor Taro Yamamoto, whose central policy position is abolition of the consumption tax.[15]

Suga's popularity falls and cabinet failureEdit

While beginning office relatively popular, Prime Minister Suga's approval ratings gradually worsened due to public dissatisfaction over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, including Japan's slow vaccine rollout compared to the rest of the developed world, and his management of the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The LDP lost three Diet by-elections in April 2021 and also failed to win an outright majority in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election in July despite winning the most seats. Analysts attributed the losses to Suga's low approval ratings.[16]

Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics and COVID-19 surgeEdit

When the Olympics were eventually held in July to August 2021, public sentiment rose as Japanese athletes secured a record haul of Olympic medals. (By contrast, the decision to go ahead with the event amidst a pandemic was met with widespread hostility.)[17] However, this did not translate into an upturn in Suga's personal ratings as the event coincided with a state of emergency while COVID-19 cases in Japan continued to surge from the Delta variant.[18] By the time the Tokyo Olympics ended, the country experienced more than a million cases. In a Asahi Shimbun poll taken at the end of the Olympics, the Cabinet's approval ratings fell to an all time low of 28%, even though 56% of the public agreed that hosting the Olympics was the right decision[19] signifying concern over the government's inability to handle the COVID-19 pandemic.[20] As a result, the government's pandemic response is likely to be an election issue.

Although Suga claimed there is no evidence that the Olympics contributed to a surge in daily cases in Tokyo and other parts of Japan, experts, including the government's chief medical adviser believe the Games undermined official messaging on virus rules and encouraged people to become complacent.[21]

2021 LDP leadership election and resignation of SugaEdit

Following the Olympics, speculation rose that several LDP lawmakers, such as former ministers Sanae Takaichi,[22] Seiko Noda,[23] 2020 leadership candidate Fumio Kishida[24] and party policy chief Hakubun Shimomura[25] were preparing to run for the LDP leadership against Suga when his term as party president ends in September, in the lead up to the election.[26]

The defeat of candidate Hachiro Okonogi, who is Suga's associate, in the Yokohama mayoral election on 22 August added pressure on the prime minister and increased speculation about his political future.[27]

On 3 September, Suga announced that he would not run for re-election for the LDP leadership citing low approval ratings, paving the way for a new LDP leader and Prime Minister to take the party into the general election.[28]

On 29 September, former foreign minister and centrist candidate Fumio Kishida defeated three other candidates and became the new leader of the LDP. He was elected by the Diet as the 100th Prime Minister of Japan on 4 October.[29][30]

Opposition forms common policy platformEdit

On 8 September, the Constitutional Democratic Party (CDPJ), Social Democratic Party (SDP), Japanese Communist Party (JCP) and Reiwa Shinsengumi formed a joint policy platform and an anti-LDP civil coalition for the upcoming election. The platform covered six areas: constitutionalism, measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, reducing economic disparities, transitioning to a decarbonized society, gender equality and government transparency.[31] Policies included:

  • Opposition to constitutional revision proposed by the LDP that would expand government powers.
  • Cuts in consumption tax rate and increasing tax burden on the wealthy.
  • Shutting down nuclear power plants and opposition for a planned integrated resort and casino development proposals.
  • New inquiries into a series of political scandals involving the LDP, including scandals of former Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe and Yoshihide Suga.[32]

As part of the agreement, members of the 4 parties involved withdrew from running in several of the single-seat constituencies to avoid vote splitting. The Japanese Communist Party withdrew 22 candidates in total, with only 106 candidates running for the JCP in total. This number was the lowest amount of candidates fielded by the JCP since the first election following Japan's electoral reform in 1996.[33] Taro Yamamoto from Reiwa Shinsengumi withdrew from his race in the single member Tokyo 8th district for the CDP's Harumi Yoshida, choosing instead to run in the Tokyo PR block.[34] Reiwa Shinsengumi withdrew 7 candidates to avoid vote splitting amongst the opposition, accounting for 40% of its planned slate of candidates.[35]

Formation, then withdrawal of First no KaiEdit

On 4 October, the regional Tokyo-based political party Tomin First no Kai announced that it had created a new national party called First no Kai. The party said that it planned to enter candidates for single-seat constituencies in Tokyo, and said that while current Governor of Tokyo Yuriko Koike will not be running, she will cooperate with the party. The party has called itself a centrist and liberal conservative party and have criticized the ruling LDP for their perceived inaction on the COVID-19 pandemic. First no Kai will be led by Chiharu Araki, a member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly who is also leader of Tomin First no Kai.[36][37][38]

However, on 15 October, the party said they would not be fielding any candidates for the election and would concentrate on the next election instead. Analysts believed that Kishida's bringing forward of the election gave little time for recruitment of candidates, thus leading to the decision to sit out this election.[39]

Current compositionEdit

Composition of the House of Representatives of Japan (as of October 6, 2021, dissolved on October 14)[40]
In-House Groups
[innai] kaiha
Parties Representatives
Liberal Democratic Party
Jiyūminshutō / Mushozoku no Kai
Liberal Democratic Party/Association of Independents
LDP, Independents 276
The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Independents
Rikken Minshutō・Mushozoku
Constitutional Democratic Party/Independents
CDP, SDP, independents 113
Kōmeitō 29
Japanese Communist Party
Nihon Kyōsantō
JCP 12
Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party)
Nippon Ishin no Kai・Mushozoku no Kai
Nippon Ishin no Kai/Association of Independents
Ishin, Independent 11
  Democratic Party For the People
Kokumin MinshutōMushozoku Kurabu
Democratic Party for the People/Independents Club
DPFP, Kibo, Independents 11
Members not affiliated with a parliamentary group/non-inscrits
LDP (Speaker), CDP (Vice-Speaker), N-Koku, Reiwa, independents 9
Vacant majoritarian seats: Tokyo 9, Kanagawa 3, Hiroshima 3, Shimane 2 (no more by-elections before the 2021 general House of Representatives election)[41] 4
Total 465

Party manifestosEdit

Liberal Democratic PartyEdit

The LDP manifesto, titled “Create a new era together with you” was released on 12 October and included:[42][43]

  • investments for crisis management and economic growth
  • continued development of nuclear fusion power generation
  • expanding support for small and medium businesses hit by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • offer subsidies for enterprises if they move into new industries
  • raising Japan's defense budget “above two percent” of gross domestic product (GDP) and enhancing Japan's defense capabilities

However, observers noted that Prime Minister Kishida's promises during his LDP leadership campaign were missing from the manifesto, and the manifesto was heavily influenced by LDP's conservative figures like Sanae Takaichi, Akira Amari and ex-prime minister Shinzo Abe.[44]

Constitutional Democratic PartyEdit

On 13 October, the CDPJ added into its manifesto:[45][46]

  • allowing couples to adopt different surnames
  • equality laws for LGBTQ people
  • laws recognising same-sex marriage
  • supplementary budget worth more than ¥30 trillion and cash handouts of ¥120,000 to low-income individuals
  • Temporary cuts in consumption tax rate from 10% to 5%
  • changing the corporate tax into a progressive system
  • raising the ceiling for income tax on rich individuals
  • raise capital gains tax to 25% by 2023 in principle and eventually to 30%
  • realizing carbon neutrality without relying on nuclear power


Japanese Communist PartyEdit

On 12 October, the JCP announced its manifesto, including the following proposals:[47]

  • cash handouts of ¥100,000 to middle-income households
  • raise the minimum wage, currently averaging at ¥930, to ¥1,500 per hour
  • lower the consumption tax to 5%

Nippon Ishin no KaiEdit

Opinion pollsEdit

The charts below depict party identification polling for the next Japanese general election using a 15-poll moving average.

  Nippon Ishin no Kai
  Reiwa Shinsengumi
  Kibō no Tō
  Nippon Ishin no Kai
  Reiwa Shinsengumi
  Kibō no Tō


Numbers of candidates by party[48]
Party Before election Const. PR Total
LDP 276 277 310 336
CDP 109 214 239 240
Komei 29 9 44 53
JCP 12 105 40 130
Ishin 11 94 96 96
DPFP 8 21 27 27
Reiwa 1 12 21 21
SDP 1 9 15 15
N-Koku 1 27 11 30
Others 1 9 14 23
Ind. 0 80 80
Total 461 857 817 1,051

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The current Constitutional Democratic Party is a new party founded in September 2020 following a merger between the CDP, a majority of the former Democratic Party for the People and some independent Diet members. The new party voted to retain the CDP name as well as Edano as leader.
  2. ^ The Democratic Party merged with Kibō no Tō in May 2018, forming the Democratic Party for the People. The majority of the DPFP later merged with the Constitutional Democratic Party in September 2020, however 14 members refused to merge and instead formed a new party retaining the DPFP name and branding.


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