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Humbled by LDP's rout in Tokyo race, Abe vows to win back trust

A day after his Liberal Democratic Party suffered a crushing
defeat in Sunday's Tokyo metropolitan assembly election, Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe said he must "deeply reflect" on the outcome,
vowing to win back the public's trust by getting policy agendas
moving.

The election, in which Gov. Yuriko Koike's new party and allies
secured an overall majority in the assembly by marginalizing the LDP,
the largest party before the vote, was viewed as a barometer of
national politics, following a string of scandals enveloping Abe,
Cabinet ministers and LDP lawmakers.

"Nearly five years have passed since the start of this
administration, and there has been sharp criticism that perhaps the
Abe administration has become slack...I think we have to take that
seriously," Abe told reporters at his office on Monday morning.

"We can't allow state affairs to be interrupted...we will
sharpen ourselves up and reflect on what should be reflected on," he
said.

The number of LDP seats in the 127-member assembly plunged to 23
from 57, prompting Hakubun Shimomura, who heads the party's Tokyo
chapter, to express his intention to resign.

The LDP has been under pressure following a succession of
scandals, one of which ties Abe himself to an allegation that he used
his influence to help pave the way for an educational institution to
open a new school of veterinary medicine. The institution's president
is a close friend of Abe's.

Following Sunday's election, opposition parties have stepped up
their offensive against the LDP. Senior officials of four opposition
parties including the largest, the Democratic Party, are expected to
confirm Tuesday their plan to call for committee deliberations or an
extraordinary session of parliament to grill Abe and other Cabinet
ministers.

Given the heat the LDP is currently facing, the party will
consider agreeing to committee deliberations, which can be held
without calling a new session of parliament, party lawmakers said.
The most recent session ended last month.

Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the LDP's coalition partner Komeito,
said he had confirmed in a meeting with Abe that the parties will
continue to cooperate at the national level despite Komeito's
alliance with Koike's Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites First party) in
the Tokyo assembly election.

In Sunday's election, Komeito succeeded in getting all 23 of its
candidates elected. Some LDP members attributed their party's rout to
Komeito's strategic shift, raising speculation it will have an impact
on the two-party coalition at the national level.

Tomin First became the biggest party in the assembly with 55
seats, including independent candidates who were eventually endorsed
after their victories. The broader Koike camp, including Komeito and
other allies, won 79 seats in total.

On Monday morning, Koike told reporters her party "became the
leading party on expectations of revamping the old assembly" in line
with its election campaign pledge.

Koike assumed the post of a special adviser to her party, after
saying earlier in the day that she would step down as the party's
leader to allay concerns that her leadership of the majority party
could weaken the metropolitan assembly's ability to keep a sitting
governor in check.

Although Koike said Tomin First is not seeking to enter national
politics "for now," she expressed hope for an increase in the number
of lawmakers who have policy affinities with the fledgling party.

Kenzo Fujisue, a third-term House of Councillors member of the
Democratic Party, said Monday that he has submitted a letter to leave
the party, citing differences with its leadership over amending the
Constitution. Although Fujisue was rumored to be seeking an alliance
with Tomin First, he has denied the rumor. (July 3)


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe heads to a senior lawmakers'
meeting of his Liberal Democratic Party in Tokyo on July 3,
2017, a day after the ruling party suffered a historic defea
t in a Tokyo metropolitan assembly election. During an
interview with media, Abe vowed to "win back the public's
trust." (Kyodo)