I’ve got to retract the word “soon,” in the headline of my last post “Unpopular Kishida Could Be On Way Out Soon.” Experts on Japanese politics have said that the most likely option is that Kishida will last until the next election for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) President in September 2024, but it will be hard for him to hold on afterward. A political reporter at a Japanese newspaper told a colleague of mine: “The question of Kishida’s demise is not if but when.” In my haste to get something out, I failed to exercise my usual due diligence in consulting experts on matters above my pay grade. I won’t make that mistake again, since there are so many others to choose from.
A couple of problems with this analysis, mostly about details:
(1) The support percentages for opposition parties as reported in pre-election polls don't reflect what they actually receive. If we just look at the proportional list votes (i.e., votes cast for a party), the opposition routinely receives >50% compared not just to the LDP but to the ruling coalition. (Note that Komeito's contribution is significant here, since it typically picks up 8x as many proportional votes as in single-member districts.)
That was the case in 2021: the opposition got 53% of proportional vote. The same majority opposition proportional votes occurred in 2017: 54%, 2014: 53%, and 2012:61%. In fact the opposition also got more aggregate SMD votes in each of those elections, too. So, the opposition has received more votes in the aggregate than the ruling coalition in each of the past 4 elections. We have an entrenched minority government in Japan.
So to talk of landslides in terms of mandates is ridiculous. Even more absurd is to take single-digit poll numbers for opposition parties seriously: e.g., in 2021, CDP's shares were 20% in proportional voting and 30% in SMDs. This was far bigger than the share of Ishin no Kai, its closest competitor in the opposition.
(2) A possible reason for the LDP's lack of crisis is that through so many cycles, Japan's perverse system for allocating seats from votes, a/k/a its election system, manages to give the ruling coalition supermajorities in terms of seats, despite the fact that year after year a majority of votes are cast against them. Western media, including your own post right here on this page, routinely overlook this distinction between votes and seats, and talk misleadingly about, e.g., LDP's "landslide" in 2012.
(3) Another possible reason for the lack of crisis is a scarcity of opposition candidates. The current leadership of CDP is, for some unfathomable reason, only fielding around 150-160 candidates, making it impossible for them to win the government. The leader of the party, Izumi Kenta, has even said it's too early to take back the government -- maybe in another 5 years, he speculates. To be fair, not everyone in CDP agrees with this attitude.
(4) As for the inability to predict the DPJ's election win in 2009 a couple of years earlier, you seem to be forgetting that the DPJ took the Upper House in 2007.
(5) Finally, wouldn’t it make more sense to talk with Japanese journalists and sources in the LDP about Kishida’s chances of survival, rather than fellow analysts based outside Japan?
Full disclosure: my wife is a designated candidate for CDP in the next general election.