Mixed results in Japan's local elections revealed that voters strongly back the ruling Liberal Democratic Party but not its current leader, Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu, and have lost almost all interest in the stumbling Socialist Party.

The Liberal Democrats, who despite their name adhere to conservative policies similar to the Republican Party in America, swept to victory in the local races, winning 1,543 or 57 percent of the 2,693 prefectural assembly seats up for election, according to figures released Monday. The Liberal Democrats made a net gain of 161 seats in the Sunday balloting.The Socialist Party, which had been on the rise in the summer of 1989 when the Liberal Democrats were hit by money and sex scandals, lost 98 seats for a total of only 345 seats or 13 percent of the available spots.