While Japan's conservatives took the majority of the seats and plaudits in Sunday's general election, the other end of the political spectrum was also faring well at the ballot box. The Japanese Communist Party (JCP) won 21 seats in the lower house of parliament, an impressive leap from the eight seats it held going into the vote and the first time the party has secured double-digit representation in 14 years. Kazuo Shii, the leader of a party that has a long history in Japan but has had precious little genuine political impact in all that time, told supporters that the public had backed the JCP because it was vigorous in its attacks on the government in the run-up to the vote. "I think the Communist Party's full-scale confrontation with the Abe administration and its stance of presenting counterproposals were appreciated by the voters," Shii said in a press conference late on Sunday. "Both on economic and diplomatic issues, our pledges have been well received by the public," Shii added. "Together with the people, we will further push this administration to the edge." Analysts suggest that the communists fared so well this time because they are the antithesis of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and that there is a polarisation of opinions evolving in Japanese politics as people abandon the centre ground for the extreme sides. "For some, this was a protest vote," Go Ito, a professor of international relations at Tokyo's Meiji University , said. "But at the same time, people actually admire the JCP because it has political principles, and it does not compromise on them," he said. In this election, the party was keen to underline its opposition to restating nuclear reactors that have been idled since the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant, as well as staunch opposition to reinterpreting the constitution to permit the Japanese military to exercise the right to collective self-defence and the law on state secrets, which went into effect in early December. "As well as their policies, I think the party gets support because it is consistent at a time when other parties and leaders are combining and separating again," he said. "They are principled and refuse to get involved in coalitions," Ito said.