One day after Abe’s murder, campaigns give one last push

TOKYO — Candidates for parliamentary elections in Japan raced from rally to rally hoping to woo voters during the closing hours of the campaign period, just one day after the assassination of Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister. in office, raising fears the campaign could be disrupted. .

Mr. Abe was shot on Friday while campaigning for a candidate for the Upper House of Parliament in the election.

But on Saturday, it appeared to be political business as usual. White vans with large photos of politicians and their names blasting from loudspeakers drove through the streets. The candidates bumped fists with supporters and posed for selfies.

From the backs of traveling vans, from street corners and train station entrances, candidates from the country’s many political parties tried to sell voters their differing views on Japan’s future. They campaigned as if they agreed on at least one thing: The violence of the previous day must not be allowed to undermine the country’s elections.

In the hours immediately following the shooting of Mr. Abe in the city of Nara, it seemed that the campaign period, which was scheduled to end on Saturday night, could end early as the country grappled with the death of one of its leading figures. most powerful and influential politicians. .

But on Friday night, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, in a brief eulogy of Mr. Abe, announced that he intended to continue campaigning on behalf of his Liberal Democratic Party, saying that to do otherwise would be to surrender to violence.

He traveled amid heightened security on Saturday to two prefectures to support the party’s candidates. While he addressed Abe’s death in remarks to voters, he focused largely on electoral issues, such as how to revive Japan’s economy and address rising prices.

For opposition parties, the political calculation of campaigning after the assassination was more complex. As a key figure in the Liberal Democratic Party, which is conservative, Abe had often served as a foil for liberal politicians.

Speaking in Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya neighborhood, Taku Yamazoe, 37, a member of Japan’s Communist Party seeking a second term, denounced Abe’s murder.

“We will not tolerate the silencing of freedom of expression,” he told his supporters. “Violence is not democracy.”

But supporters of the opposition candidates said they are worried the shooting will spark a wave of sympathy votes for the ruling party, worsening their already slim election chances.

In Tokyo’s posh Ginza district, hundreds of people gathered to cheer on Akiko Ikuina, a former pop idol who is running as a candidate for the Liberal Democratic Party.

It was his last election stop, and Mr. Abe was scheduled to attend.

Standing on the roof of a van, Ikuina, 54, fought back tears as she urged her supporters to turn out to vote on Sunday to honor the former prime minister’s legacy: “Those of us who remain,” she said, “It should help make Abe’s vision for our country a reality.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.