2017 Japanese general election

The 48th general election of members of the House of Representatives (Japanese: 第48回衆議院議員総選挙, Hepburn: dai-yonjūhachikai Shūgiin giin sōsenkyo) took place on 22 October 2017. Voting took place in all Representatives constituencies of Japan – 289 single-member districts and eleven proportional blocks – in order to appoint all 465 members (down from 475) of the House of Representatives, the lower house of the then 707-member bicameral National Diet of Japan. Incumbent Prime Minister Shinzō Abe's governing coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the Komeito party retained their seats in signs of what was perceived as weak opposition. The PM won his fourth term in office and held on to the two-thirds supermajority in order to implement policies on revising the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution.[1]

2017 Japanese general election

22 October 2017

All 465 seats to the House of Representatives of Japan
233 seats needed for a majority
Turnout53.68% (1.02%)
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Shinzō Abe Yukio Edano Yuriko Koike
Party Liberal Democratic Constitutional Democratic Kibō
Leader since 26 September 2012 2 October 2017 25 September 2017
Leader's seat Yamaguchi-4th Saitama-5th Not contesting
(Governor of Tokyo)
Last election 291 seats, 33.11% New party New party
Seats won 284 55 50
Seat change 7 40 7
Popular vote 18,555,717 11,084,890 9,677,524
Percentage 33.28% 19.88% 17.36%
Swing 0.17% N/A N/A

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
Leader Natsuo Yamaguchi Kazuo Shii Ichirō Matsui
Party Komeito Communist Ishin
Leader since 8 September 2009 24 November 2000 2 November 2015
Leader's seat Not contesting
Minami-Kantō PR Not contesting
(Governor of Osaka)
Last election 35 seats, 13.71% 21 seats, 11.37% New party
Seats won 29 12 11
Seat change 5 9 3
Popular vote 6,977,712 4,404,081 3,387,097
Percentage 12.51% 7.90% 6.07%
Swing 1.20% 3.47% N/A

  Seventh party Eighth party
Leader Tadatomo Yoshida Masashi Nakano
Party Social Democratic Japanese Kokoro
Leader since 14 October 2013 30 September 2017
Leader's seat Not contesting Not contesting
Last election 2 seats, 2.46% 2 seats, 2.65%
Seats won 2 0
Seat change 0 0
Popular vote 941,324 85,552
Percentage 1.69% 0.15%
Swing 0.77% 2.50%

Results of the election.

Prime Minister before election

Shinzō Abe
Liberal Democratic

Elected Prime Minister

Shinzō Abe
Liberal Democratic

The snap election was called in the midst of the North Korea missile threat and with the largest opposition party, the Democratic Party, in disarray. Just hours before Abe's announcement of the snap election on 25 September, Governor of Tokyo Yuriko Koike launched a new conservative reformist party Kibō no Tō, the Party of Hope, which was seen as a viable alternative to the ruling coalition. It soon led to the dissolution of the Democratic Party and its party members defecting to the Kibō no Tō. However, the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, whose members Koike refused to nominate, formed the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) led by Yukio Edano, splitting the opposition in half.[2] The election turned into a three-way contest as the CDP joined with the Japanese Communist Party and Social Democratic Party on a common platform opposing the constitutional revision. While Kibō no Tō fell short of expectation, the CDP surged in the polls in the last days before the election and beat Kibō no Tō to emerge as first among the opposition parties.[3]

Despite being disrupted by Typhoon Lan, the election saw a slight increase in turnout rate of 53.68 percent but still was the second lowest in postwar Japan. The lowest ever turnout was recorded in 2014.[4] It was also the first election after the voting age was lowered from 20 to 18.[5] Abe also became the first Prime Minister to win three consecutive general elections since 1953 and the first LDP leader to do that. He is also set to be the longest serving Prime Minister if he finishes his full term of four years.[6]


The House of Representatives has a fixed term of four years. Under the postwar constitution drafted in 1947, the interpretation of Article 7 states that the cabinet may instruct the Emperor to dissolve the House of Representatives before the end of term at will. Elections must be held within 40 days after dissolution.[7] In June 2015, the Public Office Election Law was amended to lower the voting age from 20 to 18 years of age.[5]

As of June 2015, the largest opposition party Democratic Party of Japan was reportedly preparing a roster of up to 250 candidates so as to be prepared in the event that the next general election was to be held alongside the House of Councillors election in the summer of 2016, before it merged with the Japan Innovation Party to form the Democratic Party in March 2016.[8] The Democratic Party suffered a considerable defeat at the hands of the ruling coalition in the election, in which the Abe government took almost two-thirds of the seats.

In January 2017, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike established a new local party, Tomin First, to challenge the establishment Liberal Democratic Party in the Tokyo metropolitan election to be held in July. Tomin First won a resounding victory in the election, which came in the wake of the Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Gakuen scandals calling into question the propriety of the Abe government's decision making.[9][10] After the election, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada resigned in connection with another scandal involving the Japan Self-Defense Forces concealing evidence of a battle in South Sudan.[10] Meanwhile, the main national opposition Democratic Party was severely hurt by the resignation of its leader Renho in July, as well as several high-profile defections.[11]

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe began publicly discussing the possibility of an election in mid-September 2017, as the North Korea crisis was ongoing. Continuing the momentum of her Tokyo election victory, Koike announced the formation of a new national political party, Kibō no Tō (Party of Hope), on 25 September. Abe called the general election just hours later on the same day.[11] Soon after the Party of Hope was established, Democratic Party leader Seiji Maehara sought to merge with Kibō no Tō. Maehara's decision was strongly criticised by the liberal wing of the party, whose candidacies were rejected by Koike. The liberal wing surrounding the deputy president Yukio Edano announced the formation of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan on 2 October 2017.[12] Opposition politicians claim Abe called the election partly to evade further questioning in parliament over his alleged misuse of power in securing approval for a veterinary college campus in Imabari.[13]

One wedge issue between the two major coalitions is the scheduled consumption tax hike in October 2019. The LDP coalition advocates keeping the tax hike and using the funds for child care and education, while the Kibo coalition advocates freezing the tax hike.[14] Nonetheless, Koike stated on 8 October that she was open to the option of a grand coalition with the LDP.[15]

The LDP fielded 332 candidates, while Komeito fielded 53, Kibō no Tō fielded 235, and Nippon Ishin fielded 52. The Constitutional Democratic Party, Japanese Communist Party and Social Democratic Party joined forces to support a total number of 342 candidates on the common platform of opposing the revision the pacifist Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan and the new national security legislation.[16][17]

Several U.S.-Japan policy experts, including James Zumwalt and Michael Green, opined in October that the election was unlikely to have a major impact on policy as the LDP was expected to retain control; however, there was anxiety about the prospect of a leadership vacuum if Abe was eventually forced to resign as head of the LDP.[18]

Contesting parties and candidates

Numbers of candidates by party[16]
Party Before election Const. PR Total

Ruling coalition

Koike's coalition

  • Kibō no Tō, also known as the Party of Hope, is the brand new conservative reformist party launched by Yuriko Koike, former LDP minister and incumbent Governor of Tokyo, on 25 September 2017 ahead of the general election. The new party attracted former members of the LDP as well as the conservative wing of the Democratic Party, the largest opposition party at the time, led by Seiji Maehara to join with the aims of overthrowing the Abe government.[19] Three members of the Ichirō Ozawa's Liberal Party also decided run under Koike's banner. Despite being tipped as the first Japan's woman Prime Minister, Koike has expressed no intention to run in the general election and stated that her party would not name a prime ministerial candidate during the election.[20] The party has promised to freeze the planned consumption tax increase and promote debate on the constitutional revision.[21]
  • Nippon Ishin no Kai, previously known as Initiatives from Osaka, is a Kansai-based party led by Governor of Osaka Ichirō Matsui. It split from the Japan Innovation Party in 2015. Having similar policies with Kibō no Tō, the party has agreed to cooperate with Koike in the coming election.[22]

Pacifist coalition

  • The Japanese Communist Party (JCP), the left-wing party led by Kazuo Shii, saw its recent resurgence in the 2014 House of Representative election due to its firm pacifist stance against the revision of Article 9 of the Constitution. The party currently is the second largest opposition party, holding 21 seats in the House of Representatives. The party forms an alliance with two other left-leaning parties, the Constitutional Democrats and the Social Democrats, and plans to field 243 candidates.
  • The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP), a brand new centre-left social liberal party formed by Yukio Edano on 2 October 2017 by the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, the then largest opposition party, after Kibō no Tō refused to nominate the liberal candidates of the Democratic Party when the party leader Seiji Maehara decided to join Kibō no Tō with the party.[23] The party calls for Japan to phase out nuclear power, opposes the constitutional revision and the new national security legislation with two other left-leaning opposition parties. The party plans to field 78 candidates in the coming election.
  • The Social Democratic Party (SDP) is the centre-left social democratic party led by Tadatomo Yoshida, which currently holds 2 seats in the House of Representatives. It opposes the revision of the pacifist Article 9 of the Constitution, and forms an alliance with two other left-leaning to stop the constitutional revisionists from winning a two-thirds majority.[24]

Other parties

Gender representation

Fewer than 20% of the 1,180 candidates that ran in the election were women. 9% of current elected figures are women, Japan ranks 165th out of 193 countries on this aspect.[25]

Opinion polling

Voting intention (PR blocks)

Voting intention (districts)

Party approval

Preferred prime minister

Preferred outcome

Cabinet approval / disapproval ratings


Summary of the 22 October 2017 House of Representatives election results
Parties Constituency PR Block Total seats
Votes % ±pp Seats Votes % ±pp Seats Seats ± % ±pp
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 26,719,03248.210.11218 18,555,71733.280.1766 284661.080.02
Komeitō (NKP) 832,4531.500.058 6,977,71212.511.2021 2956.240.92
Governing coalition 27,551,48549.710.17226 25,533,42945.791.0387 3131167.310.90
Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) 4,852,0978.75New18 11,084,89019.88New37 554011.836.66
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) 4,998,9329.024.281 4,404,0817.903.4711 1292.581.84
Social Democratic Party (SDP) 634,7191.150.361 941,3241.690.771 200.430.01
Liberalist coalition 10,485,74818.9220 16,430,29529.4749 693114.846.84
Kibō no Tō (Party of Hope) 11,437,60120.64New18 9,677,52417.36New32 50710.751.25
Nippon Ishin no Kai (JIP) 1,765,0533.184.983 3,387,0976.079.658 1132.370.58
The third coalition 13,202,65423.8221 13,064,62123.4340 611013.121.83
Happiness Realization Party (HRP) 159,1710.290 292,0840.520.030 000.000.00
New Party Daichi 226,5520.410 000.000.00
No Party to Support 125,0190.220.020 000.000.00
Party for Japanese Kokoro (PJK) 85,5520.152.500 000.000.00
Others 52,0800.030 000.000.00
Independents 3,970,9467.164.3122 22174.733.48
Total 55,422,087100.00289 55,757,552100.00176 46510100.00

Seats, of total, by party

  Liberal Democratic (61.08%)
  CDP (11.83%)
  Kibō no Tō (10.75%)
  Komeito (6.24%)
  Communist (2.58%)
  Social Democratic (0.43%)
  Independent (4.73%)
Total 465 lower house seats
Liberal Democratic
Constitutional Democratic
Kibō no Tō
Nippon Ishin no Kai
Social Democratic
FPTP vote in 289 single-member constituencies
LDP (contesting 277)
Kibo (contesting 198)
JCP (contesting 206)
CDP (contesting 63)
Ind. (contesting 73)
Ishin (contesting 47)
Komei (contesting 9)
SDP (contesting 19)
Proportional vote in 11 multi-member blocks
LDP (contesting 11)
CDP (contesting 11)
Kibo (contesting 11)
Komei (contesting 11)
JCP (contesting 11)
Ishin (contesting 11)
SDP (contesting 11)
HRP (contesting 11)
NPD (contesting 1)
NPS (contesting 1)
PJK (contesting 2)

Notable defeats

Party Name Constituency Year elected Defeated by Party Details
Liberal Democratic Yūji Yamamoto Kochi-2nd 1990 (in Kochi-3rd) Hajime Hirota Independent Agriculture Minister in the Third Abe Cabinet. He was returned to the Diet through the Shikoku PR block.[26]
Koya Nishikawa Tochigi-2nd (Kita-Kantō PR block) 1996 Akio Fukuda Independent Agriculture Minister in the Second Abe Cabinet who was defeated in the district in 2014 but managed to return through the PR block at that time. He didn't enter the block this time round and therefore was not returned to the Diet.[27]
Yūko Nakagawa Hokkaido-11th 2012 Kaori Ishikawa Constitutional Democratic MP since 2012 and widow of former Finance Minister, Shōichi Nakagawa.[28]
Miki Yamada Tokyo-1st 2012 Banri Kaieda Constitutional Democratic Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Third Abe Cabinet. Yamada famously defeated former DPJ leader Kaieda in the 2014 election.[29][30] Kaieda regained his seat in this election. Yamada was able to retain her Diet seat through the LDP list for the Tokyo PR block.[31]
Takao Ochi Tokyo-6th 2012 Takayuki Ochiai Constitutional Democratic Vice Minister of the Cabinet Office in the Second and Third Abe Cabinet. Ochi was able to hold on to his Diet seat through the LDP list for the Tokyo PR block.[32]
Masatada Tsuchiya Tokyo-18th 2012 Naoto Kan Constitutional Democratic Former mayor of Musashino. Tsuchiya defeated former PM Kan in the 2014 election. Kan was able to return to the parliament through the Tokyo PR block and was the very last (475th) MP elected that night.[29][30] He regained his seat in the election. Conversely, Tsuchiya wasn't returned to the Diet as he was not in the LDP list for the Tokyo PR block.[33]
Komeito Isamu Ueda Kanagawa-6th 2000 (block)
2003 (district)
Yōichirō Aoyagi Constitutional Democratic Deputy Secretary General of the Komeito party and Vice Finance Minister in the Second and Third Koizumi Cabinet[34]
Kibō Masaru Wakasa Tokyo-10th 2014 (block)
2016 (district)
Hayato Suzuki Liberal Democratic A founding member of Kibō no Tō and one of the closest allies of Yuriko Koike. He was in the Kibō list for the Tokyo PR block, but was not able to hold on to his Diet seat due to receiving inadequate votes.[35][36]
Sumio Mabuchi Nara-1st 2003 Shigeki Kobayashi Liberal Democratic Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in the Kan cabinet and a candidate for the 2012 DPJ leadership election. Mabuchi has the highest ratio of margin of defeat (97.27%) among all defeated candidates in the election.[37]
Independent (formerly LDP) Keiichirō Asao Kanagawa-4th 2009 Yuki Waseda Constitutional Democratic Former chairman of the defunct Your Party. He contested as an independent as he wasn't selected by the LDP in the snap election.[38]
Mayuko Toyota Saitama-4th 2012 Yasushi Hosaka Liberal Democratic Toyota resigned from the LDP due to a high-profile bullying scandal in June 2017.[39] At the time of the election, she was under investigation for assaulting her former aide. She contested as an independent as she wasn't selected by the LDP in the snap election.[40]


Results of the Prime Minister election[41][42]
Party Candidate Votes
Rep Cou
LDPKōmeiShinzō Abe312151
CDPYukio Edano609
KibōShū Watanabe513
DPKōhei Ōtsuka1648
JCPKazuo Shii1214
IshinToranosuke Katayama1111
Former DPSeiji Maehara10
IndependentEiichirō Washio10
IndependentKenzō Fujisue02
Invalid/blank vote11
Did not vote03

Reactions and analysis

The success of the CDP in surpassing the Kibō no Tō in the number of seats and becoming the official opposition party was surprising. It presents a potential challenge for the ruling coalition to pass the constitutional amendment of Article 9, which was one of the main issues of the 2017 general election that was supported by Koike but opposed by the pacifist coalition.[43] With the super-majority in both the upper and the lower house, the ruling coalition are expected to pass other legislation without much resistance.[44] In a post-election conference, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe was optimistic about moving forward, stating that the victory was the first time the LDP have "won three consecutive victories" under the same party leader.[45] The landslide victory achieved by the LDP campaign has been observed as not completely related to the popularity of Shinzo Abe, as the victory was also significantly influenced by the disconnect between the oppositions, notably the failure of Koike and the pacifist coalition to unite over many election issues.[45][46]

Investiture vote

A special Diet session was convened on 1 November to elect the next prime minister.[47] Abe was re-elected with 312 and 151 votes in the House of Representatives and House of Councillors respectively.[41][42] The new cabinet was formed later on the day.

See also


  1. This poll is not specific to the PR blocks, but is rather a general voting-intention poll. "At the next elections, what is the party that you would like to vote for, or to which your preferred candidate belongs?".
  2. This response was phrased as "The government loses its majority", which would include both those wishing for a change in government, as well as those wishing for the coalition to negotiate with other parties.


  1. "Shinzo Abe gains big victory in Japan election". Financial Times. 22 October 2017.
  2. "How Japanese PM Shinzo Abe won a sweeping electoral triumph". Financial Times. 22 October 2017.
  3. "立憲民主党、野党第1党が確実(衆院選2017)". Huffington Post. 2017-10-22.
  4. "Election turnout likely second-lowest in postwar period, estimate says". The Japan Times. 2017-10-23.
  5. Umeda, Sayuri. "Japan: Voting Age Lowered from 20 to 18". Library of Congress.
  6. Rich, M. (22 November 2017). "Japan Election Vindicates Shinzo Abe as His Party Wins Big". The New York Times. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  7. MIC/e-gov legal database: 公職選挙法 Archived 2016-07-29 at the Wayback Machine, chapter 5 (election dates), article 31 (general elections)
  8. "民主、衆参同日選も想定 年内に候補者170人擁立めざす". Nihon Keizai Shimbun. 6 June 2015. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  9. Rich, Motoko (2017-07-03). "Tokyo Voters' Rebuke Signals Doubt About Shinzo Abe's Future". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-10-09.
  10. Repeta, Lawrence (2017-10-15). "Backstory to Abe's Snap Election – the Secrets of Moritomo, Kake and the "Missing" Japan SDF Activity Logs". The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus. Retrieved 2017-10-17.
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  12. "Former DP heavyweight Yukio Edano seeks to fill void with new liberal-minded party". Japan Times. 2 October 2017.
  13. "Why the LDP keeps winning elections in Japan: pragmatism". The Economist. 12 October 2017.
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  22. "Kibo no To and Osaka's Nippon Ishin in cautious collaboration with wide policy overlap". Japan Times. 6 October 2017.
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  24. "Japan's opposition races to assemble slates as tumult persists". SGA. 4 October 2017.
  25. Japan Ranks Low in Female Lawmakers. An Election Won't Change That., by MOTOKO RICHOCT. 21, 2017, https://nyti.ms/2gVN79s New York Times
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  27. "栃木2区" (in Japanese). NHK. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  28. "北海道11区" (in Japanese). NHK. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  29. Aoki, Mizuho; Yoshida, Reiji. "Kaieda quits as DPJ chief after humiliating ejection from Diet". The Japan Times. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
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  34. "神奈川6区" (in Japanese). NHK. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
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  41. 第195回国会 本会議 第1号(平成29年11月1日(水曜日)) (in Japanese)
  42. 第195回国会 (2017年11月1日) 投票結果ー内閣総理大臣の指名 (in Japanese)
  43. "After win, Abe takes cautious tack on revising Constitution". Asahi Shimbun. October 24, 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  44. Osborne, Samuel; Yamaguchi, Mari (October 24, 2017). "What does Shinzo Abe's election win mean for Japan?". The Independent. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  45. Shimada, Gaku; Kagaya, Kazuki (October 24, 2017). "Overconfidence emerges as Abe's biggest risk after opposition sink". Nikkei Asian Review. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  46. "Japan's Abe Has Pulled Off a Landslide— But He's Not as Popular as You Might Think". Bloomberg. October 24, 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
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