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Tokyo Voters Turn Away From Party of Scandal-Plagued Japanese PM


FILE : Tokyo Governor and head of Tokyo Citizens First party Yuriko Koike (R) delivers a speech to voters atop of a campaign van as election campaign officially kicks off for Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, on the street in Tokyo, June 23, 2017.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is promising to work to regain trust after his Liberal Democratic party was trounced in Sunday's Tokyo municipal election.

The LDP is expected to finish with just 23 seats in the new assembly - a sharp drop from the 57 seats it has held.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koikie's Tokyo Citizens First Party and its allies will win at least 72 of the assembly's 127 seats.

Japanese political observers say the Tokyo election was less about Koikie and more of a referendum on Abe, who has been plagued by scandal.

The prime minister has been accused of using his position to help a friend win approval for a veterinary school inside a special economic zone - something the Japanese government rarely does.

Special economic zones operate under different business and trade laws than the rest of the country.

Abe, who denies the allegations, has generally been a popular prime minister since taking office in 2012, but the scandal has hurt his popularity ratings.

Abe is thought to be striving to stay in office at least thorough the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyom, but some Japanese observers speculate Koikie may be interested in his job.

The prime minister also has been strongly pushing for a revision to the Japanese constitution, which was drawn up by the United States after World War II and formally renounces militarism.