TOKYO: The leader of Japan’s main opposition party announced his resignation Tuesday after an election drubbing that saw him fail to capitalise on public dissatisfaction with the ruling party’s pandemic response.
Yukio Edano — who has headed Japan’s leading opposition faction, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, since its founding in 2017 — apologised for the poor electoral showing, in which the party lost 14 seats, down to 96.
He said Tuesday he would step down in response.
“We were able to create a structure offering political options, but the results mean that many of our deserving members are not returning and the number of seats we hold will decline,” he said.
“It’s a very disappointing result,” he added, saying “this is primarily because of my lack of ability”.
A lawmaker since 1993, Edano served in government when the now-defunct Democratic Party of Japan had a brief stint in power from 2009 to 2012 and was the cabinet’s public face in the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami and Fukushima nuclear meltdown.
He launched the CDP in 2017 and the party merged with another major opposition group in 2020 in an unsuccessful bid to strengthen their standing.
In Sunday’s election, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party won a strong majority under new leader Fumio Kishida.
Final results are expected later in the week, but the LDP and its coalition party Komeito are projected to hold 293 of the lower house’s 435 seats, a slight drop from the previous figure of 305.
The vote’s surprise star appears to have been the Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation) Party, an Osaka-based faction that won 41 seats, up from just 11.
The party, which advocates small government, deregulation and tax cuts, becomes the third-largest in parliament and has ruled out joining the ruling coalition.