Japan 2017 Diet Election

All polling stations will close by 8 PM, local time, on Sunday and vote-counting will start immediately.

1180 candidates are running for 465 seats. 289 lawmakers will be elected directly and 176 through a system of proportional representation.

Election officials say voter turnout was 26.30 percent as of 4 PM —down about 2.81 percentage points from the previous election 3 years ago. They say ballots cast in early voting hit a record 21.4 million as of Friday.

During the election campaign, candidates debated the performance of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, a scheduled tax hike, whether to amend the Constitution, nuclear policy and Japan’s approach to North Korea.

How the Diet works

Japan’s Diet is made up of two chambers. The House of Representatives is also known as the Lower House. It’s more powerful than the House of Councilors, or Upper House.

The term of a Lower House lawmaker is four years. The Prime Minister has the power to dissolve the chamber at any time for an election.

After a general election, lawmakers in both houses vote to choose the Prime Minister, but ultimately it’s up to Lower House lawmakers.

A bill becomes law when both Houses pass it. When the two chambers differ, Lower House lawmakers can still push through legislation if two-thirds of them support it.

How the electoral system works

In a general election, Japanese citizens aged 18 or older have two ways to decide who will represent them in the Lower House.

They can cast two ballots. One, to choose the name of a candidate they want to fill their constituencies. 289 lawmakers are chosen this way.

On the second ballot, voters pick from a list of political parties and groups. 176 lawmakers are then elected by proportional representation.

Some candidates are running in both systems, meaning they have a better chance to win.

Lower House seats at 465

People in Japan will be voting for the fewest number of Lower House lawmakers since World War Two. The number of seats was reduced this election from 475 to 465 to address long-standing population disparities between regions.

NHK will provide up-to-the-minute coverage of the Lower House election on October 22nd. Stay tuned.

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