JAPAN
Parliamentary Chamber: Shugiin

ELECTIONS HELD IN 2003

<<< Return to the Historical Archive page of parliamentary election results for JAPAN <<<

Chamber:
  Shugiin


Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  9 November 2003


Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all the seats in the House of Representatives following premature dissolution of this body on 10 October 2003. General elections had previously taken place in June 2000.


Background and outcome of elections:

  On 10 October 2003, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi dissolved the House of Representatives, the lower house of Parliament, and scheduled early general elections for 9 November. Mr Koizumi was required to call elections by June 2004, but had been generally expected to move up the date after he had scored an overwhelming win in the leadership race within his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in September 2003.

Mr Koizumi came to office in April 2001 promising to change Japan and his own party. Since then, he had been accused of moving too cautiously and faced opposition from within his own party. Nevertheless, judging from the polls issued prior to the elections, the public seemed prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. The apparently strong recovery of the Japanese economy (that outperformed many other industrialised countries for the first time in years) together with a strong stock market in the months before the elections and economic growth were expected to help him at the elections.

A total of 1,159 candidates ran, including 336 from the LDP and 277 Democrats. For the first time in the country's post-war political history, there was a credible opposition to challenge the LDP: the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), led by Mr Naoto Kan which was formed in 1996, and expanded in summer 2003 when it merged with the smaller Liberal Party.

Official campaigning began on 28 October. The opposition Democratic Party (DPJ) stated that the elections should be a test of whether the country could develop a true two-party system (the LDP has governed Japan almost without interruption for nearly 50 years).

The main campaign issues were the economy, crime and the country's pacifist Constitution. Both the LDP and the DPJ focused their campaigns on economic reform, with the common pledge of slashing public spending. The LDP announced its intention to privatise many of the nation's public-sector institutions, while the DPJ said it would go as far as abolishing some. Both parties also pledged to try and stem the country's rising crime rate by increasing the number of members of the police. Yet another burning issue was the amendment of the country's pacifist Constitution to give the military more flexibility in the post-11 September era. The LDP pledged to draft a revision by 2005, while the DPJ said it would produce revision guidelines by the end of 2004.

Voter turnout was about 52 per cent, down from the last lower House elections in 2000, when the voting rate was 62.5 per cent, and only slightly higher than the record low posted in the 1996 elections.

The results showed that the LDP will have to rely on its coalition partners (the New Komei Party and the New Conservative Party) to remain in power, as it lost 12 seats. In all, the ruling coalition took 275 seats, enough to keep a majority in the House of Representatives but less than the previous total of 287 seats. The opposition DPJ posted a significant gain, up from 137 before the elections to 177, a post-war record for a party other than the LDP.

On 19 November 2003, Mr Junichiro Koizumi was re-elected as Prime Minister. The same day, the House of Representatives elected as its Speaker Mr Yohei Kono, an LDP veteran who formerly served as party president and foreign minister.

STATISTICS
Round no 1 (9 November 2003): Elections results (Proportional Voting System)  
Number of registered electors 102 306 684
Voters 61 183 286 (60%)
Blank or invalid ballot papers 2 080 459
Valid votes 59 102 827
Elections results (Majority Voting System)  
Number of registered electors 102 232 944
Voters 61 189 807 (60%)
Blank or invalid ballot papers 1 687 433
Valid votes 59 502 374

Round no 1: Distribution of votes (Proportional Voting System)  
Political Group Candidates Votes %
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 314 20 660 185 34.90
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) 274 22 095 606 37.40
New Komeito 45 8 733 444 14.80
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) 47 4 586 172 7.70
Social Democratic Party (SDPJ) 65 3 072 390 5.20
Round no 1: Distribution of votes (Majority Voting System)  
Political Group Candidates Votes %
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 277 26 089 326 43.85
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) 267 21 814 154 36.66
New Komeito 10 886 507 1.49
New Conservative Party 11 791 588 1.33
Social Democratic Party (SDPJ) 62 1 708 672 2.87
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) 300 4 837 952 8.13
Others 99 3 374 173 5.67

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total Proportional Majority
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 237 69 168
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) 177 72 105
New Komeito 34 25 9
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) 9 9 0
Social Democratic Party (SDPJ) 6 5 1
New Conservative Party 4 0 4
Others 13 0 13

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 446
Women: 34
Percent of women: 7.08

Distribution of seats according to age:  
Under 30 years : 7
31 to 40 years: 59
41 to 50 years: 116
51 to 60 years: 177
61 to 70 years: 102
Over 71 years: 19


<<< Return to the Historical Archive page of parliamentary election results for JAPAN <<<

Copyright 2003 Inter-Parliamentary Union