Japan's ruling party suffers big losses in Tokyo election

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Tokyo: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party was handed a bloody nose in Tokyo's metropolitan assembly election Sunday, securing a mere 23 seats from a possible 127 -- the party's worst ever return.

The result, which saw Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike's new Tomin First Party team up with a handful of independents to capture a total of 79 seats, reflected a more general dissatisfaction with Abe's national leadership, said analysts.

Japan's ruling party suffers big losses in Tokyo election

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his party's stinging defeat in weekend Tokyo assembly elections represented a "severe criticism", after it lost over half its seats in the vote in a historic loss. The polls, seen as a bellwether for national political sentiment, come as Abe is buffeted by a series of setbacks and scandals that have driven down his popularity.

A new political party set up by former TV anchorwoman Yuriko Koike, elected Tokyo governor in a landslide vote last year, was able to capitalise on this to seize 49 seats out of 127, becoming the leading group in the capital's assembly in yesterday's election.

Key issues in the election, which is often seen as a bellwether for national elections, included the relocation of the city's famous Tsukiji fish market, a huge tourist draw, and preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The assembly consists of 127 seats, an absolute majority of which are now held by the upstart Tomin First Party and its six allies, according to the Japanese state broadcaster.

Koike, the Japanese capital's first female governor, said she was grateful for the results, which exceeded expectations, but is also "feeling the weight of responsibility," according to NHK.

"The result is much better than we had expected," said the lawmaker, who was a former Environment Minister and Defense Minister in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) before breaking away to form Tomin First -- which translates to "Tokyoites First" -- last month.

"Our candidates are all fresh, and this new lineup will make the assembly something completely different," Koike said in an interview on Fuji TV.

(with agency inputs)

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