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Party heads traveled over 100,000 km

The Yomiuri Shimbun


Clockwise from top left; Shinzo Abe, Natsuo Yamaguchi, Yukio Edano, Hajime Yoshikawa, Ichiro Matsui, Kazuo Shii and Yuichiro Tamaki

The Yomiuri ShimbunLeaders of the seven major political parties in total traveled more than 100,000 kilometers — enough to circle the globe two and a half times — seeking support around the country during the 17-day campaign for the House of Councillors election.

An analysis of their whistle-stops provides hints to each party’s strategy.

“It’s a tough race. Let’s make it a come-from-behind win today,” Prime Minister and Liberal Democratic Party President Shinzo Abe said Saturday in Akita as he started the day’s campaigning in the hotly contested constituency.

During the campaign, Abe focused on constituencies in which only one upper house seat was up for grabs. He visited 21 prefectures from Hokkaido to Oita, logging the most travel at 20,660 kilometers. He made two stops in some areas with close races, including Akita, Yamagata and Niigata.

Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi focused on the Saitama, Kanagawa, Aichi, Hyogo and Fukuoka constituencies among the seven in which his party has official candidates. He went to 15 prefectures, traveling 15,824 kilometers.

During the campaign, he made four visits to the Hyogo constituency, the site of a fierce campaign, including on the first day of campaigning on July 4 and the final day on Saturday, seeking to bolster party solidarity.

While opposition parties are running joint candidates in 32 constituencies with one seat up for grabs nationwide, their leaders and other executives have adopted different strategies.

Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano focused on populous electoral districts where multiple seats are up for grabs, such as Tokyo, Kanagawa and Chiba, trying to support the party’s official candidates.

Because many of the candidates running in constituencies with one seat up for grabs are unaffiliated, “campaigning for them doesn’t get you much in terms of proportional representation votes,” a CDPJ senior official said.

Edano campaigned Saturday in the Tokyo constituency, where his party has two candidates.

“Your support here at the end will determine our victory,” he said in front of JR Shinagawa Station. Edano traveled the sixth-most during the campaign at 12,542 kilometers, but visited the largest number of prefectures at 24.

Meanwhile, Democratic Party for the People leader Yuichiro Tamaki focused on securing wins in constituencies with one seat up for grabs where unaffiliated candidates backed mostly by his party are running.

On the campaign’s first and last days he visited the Shizuoka constituency, where a DPFP incumbent is fighting to hold onto one of two seats in a field that includes a CDPJ candidate. Tamaki visited 20 prefectures, traveling 16,376 kilometers.

Japanese Communist Party Chairman Kazuo Shii traveled all over Tokyo, Osaka and elsewhere where official JCP candidates are running, traveling 12,614 kilometers and visiting 21 prefectures.

Ichiro Matsui, leader of Nippon Ishin no Kai, which is not taking part in the joint effort of the other opposition parties, campaigned mainly in Osaka and Hyogo prefectures, as well as some in the Kanto region where his party is seeking to win some seats. He traveled the least at 4,769 kilometers.

Social Democratic Party President Seiji Mataichi is in poor health, so SDP Secretary General Hajime Yoshikawa took his place campaigning around the country. He has been all over, from his home prefecture of Oita and elsewhere in Kyushu to the Tohoku region, traveling 17,872 kilometers, putting him in the No. 2 spot.

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