Japan ruling party candidate suffers by-election loss
TOKYO (Reuters) - A senior member of Japan's opposition Liberal Democratic Party defeated a ruling party candidate in a lower house by-election, in the latest sign of voter dissatisfaction with the ruling party.
The loss, which follows the Democratic Party of Japan's (DPJ) major defeat in an upper house election in July, comes at a time when Prime Minister Naoto Kan is struggling with a weak economy, a strong yen and a divided parliament.
In the election for a seat in Japan's northern main island of Hokkaido held on Sunday, former Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura beat the DPJ's Shigeyuki Nakamae, a former transport ministry official.
Machimura, an LDP heavyweight, was defeated in his long-time constituency by a DPJ rival in the general election last year that swept the DPJ to power with a promise to change the way in which Japan was governed.
The vote, held after a DPJ incumbent resigned over a funding scandal, was the first election to choose a member of parliament since Kan reshuffled his cabinet in September.
Support for Kan's government has also been dropping in recent media polls over the way Tokyo handled its territorial dispute with China over uninhabited islets in the East China Sea as well as due to voter distaste for party powerbroker Ichiro Ozawa, who faces indictment over a funding scandal.
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)
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