After Assassination, Voters Give Abe's Party a Boost

Former prime minister's party on track for strong showing in parliamentary elections
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 10, 2022 9:54 AM CDT
After Assassination, Voters Give Abe's Party a Boost
A voter casts a ballot in the upper house elections at a polling station Sunday, July 10, 2022, in Tokyo.   (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Japan voted Sunday in the shadow of the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that brought heightened security as party leaders avoided mingling with crowds in last-minute campaign stops. Exit polls for the election for the parliament's upper house showed Abe's governing party certain to win a major victory, possibly propelled by what is seen as a wave of sympathy votes in a country still reeling from the shock of Friday's brazen shooting, per the AP.

Also Sunday, police in western Japan sent the alleged assassin to a local prosecutors' office for further investigation. A top regional police official acknowledged possible security lapses that allowed the attacker to get so close and fire a bullet at the former Japanese leader. Exit polls by NHK public broadcaster and other media showed the governing Liberal Democratic Party was certain to secure a single majority of 125 seats, or half of the upper house, the less powerful of the two chambers. It's a major boost for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who stands to rule without interruption until a scheduled election in 2025.

In the wake of Abe’s assassination, Sunday’s election had a new meaning, with all political leaders emphasizing the importance of free speech and their pledge not to back down on violence against democracy. Security was also heightened. On the final day of campaigning Saturday, party leaders avoided fist-bumps—a COVID-19 alternative to handshakes—or other close-proximity friendly gestures they used to enjoy with the public. Abe was shot in Nara on Friday and airlifted to a hospital but died of blood loss. Police arrested a former member of Japan’s navy at the scene and confiscated a homemade gun. Several others were later found at his apartment. (Read more about the gun.)

(More Shinzo Abe stories.)

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