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Japan’s ruling coalition secures upper house majority

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By PTI Updated: Jul 21, 2019 9:45 pm
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Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe enters the headquarters of his Liberal Democratic Party in Tokyo on July 21.

Tokyo, July 21 (AP/PTI): Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition secured a majority in Japan’s upper house of parliament in elections Sunday, according to vote counts by public television and other media.
Exit polls indicated Abe could even close in on the super-majority needed to propose constitutional revisions.
NHK public television said Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner Komeito had won 64 seats in the upper house after two hours of vote counting.

The two-thirds majority needed for constitutional revision could be within reach if the ruling bloc can gain support from members of another conservative party and independents.

Up for grabs were 124 seats in the less powerful of Japan’s two parliamentary chambers.
There are 245 seats in the upper house which does not choose the prime minister about half of which are elected every three years.

The results appeared to match or even exceed pre-election polls that indicated Abe’s ruling bloc was to keep ground in the upper house, with most voters considering it a safer choice over an opposition with an uncertain track record.

To reach the two-thirds majority, or 164 seats, Abe needs 85 more seats by his ruling bloc and supporters of a charter change.

Opposition parties have focused on concerns over household finances, such as the impact from an upcoming 10 per cent sales tax increase and strains on the public pension system amid Japan’s aging population.

Abe has led his Liberal Democratic Party to five consecutive parliamentary election victories since 2012.
He has prioritised revitalising Japan’s economy and has steadily bolstered the country’s defenses in the backdrop of North Korea’s missile and nuclear threats and China’s growing military presence.

He also has showcased his diplomatic skills by cultivating warm ties with President Donald Trump.
Abe was hoping to gain enough upper house seats to boost his chances for constitutional revision, his long-cherished goal before his term ends in 2021.

Abe needs approval by a two-thirds majority in both houses to propose a revision and seek a national referendum.
His ruling bloc already has a two-thirds majority in the more powerful lower house.

But Abe and his conservative backers face challenges because voters seem more concerned about their jobs, the economy and social security.

The main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and three other liberal-leaning parties teamed up in some districts.

6092
By PTI Updated: Jul 21, 2019 9:45:00 pm