Voter Turnout in Japan’s General Election Exceeds 2014 Figures
AFP 2017/ BEHROUZ MEHRI Asia & Pacific09:52 22.10.2017(updated 09:59 22.10.2017) Get short URL
Japan is in a rush to hold general elections ahead of Typhoon Lan that is expected to hit country late Sunday.
OSAKA (Sputnik) — The voter turnout in Japan’s general elections to the lower house has reached 12.24 percent 4 hours after the polling stations opened across the country, exceeding the figures of the previous vote in 2014, the Japanese Interior Ministry said on Sunday.
On Sunday, nearly 47,700 polling stations opened across the country at 7:00 local time (22:00 GMT Saturday). A total of 1,180 candidates are vying for 465 seats in Japan’s lower house. Japanese citizens will cast their ballots in two votes – 289 parliament members will be elected through single-seat constituency vote, while 176 candidates are due to take seats in the lower house after the proportional representation vote.
According to the Interior Ministry, as of 11:00 local time (2:00 GMT) 12.24 percent of voters had cast their ballots in the general vote, a 1.16-percent increase, compared to the previous election in 2014.
The latest poll by the Kyodo news agency carried out on October 15-17, revealed that incumbent Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s coalition was likely to win a two-thirds majority in the parliament’s lower house – LDP is projected to win 280 seats, while its coalition partner, Komeito, may take at least 35 seats in the House of Representatives. The Party of Hope comes in second place and is projected to win 57 seats, while Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan may win nearly 50 seats.
The highest voter turnout was recorded in Yamagata prefecture (18.32 percent), followed by Iwate prefecture (18.02 percent), Niigata prefecture (17.79 percent). Voter turnout was the lowest in Okinawa prefecture (7.03 percent) and Saitama prefecture (9.46 percent).
The polling stations are expected to close at 20:00 local time (11:00 GMT), but due to Typhoon Lan, which is expected to hit Japan on late Sunday and reach Tokyo by Monday noon, nearly 1,600 ballot stations in the southern regions may close earlier.
The Mishima Island, located nearly 40 kilometers away from the city of Hagi in Yamaguchi prefecture, held a vote one day earlier. The ballot boxes were expected to be delivered to Hagi for ballot counting today, but due to the approaching typhoon, all voyages were canceled in the region. Therefore, ballots from three voting districts in Yamaguchi prefecture are likely to be counted on Monday.
“I think that there will be more people before noon, since it could be dangerous [to go out] in the afternoon. Many people have voted in advance,” an electoral commission member in the Nishi district of Osaka told Sputnik.
According to the NHK broadcaster, the Japan Meteorological Agency issued heavy rain and flood warnings for most regions of the Pacific side of Japan, including for Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures. Evacuation orders have been issued for all the towns in Kanagawa and Ehime prefectures. At least two people have been injured as a result of being hit by strong winds in Kanagawa prefecture, the broadcaster reported.
The broadcaster added that 371 flights have been canceled across the country, while heavy rain has disrupted rail service in many areas.
Typhoon Lan has been classified as a Category 4 Hurricane by the Tropical Storm Risk (TSR). According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the hurricane is heading north with maximum wind gust speed of 65 miles per hour and average speed of 22 miles.