Friday 23 August 2019

Japan's Abe poised for upper-house victory

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Photo: Naoya Osato/Kyodo News via AP
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Photo: Naoya Osato/Kyodo News via AP

Mari Yamuguchi

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition secured a majority in Japan's upper house of parliament but will not reach the super-majority needed to propose constitutional revisions.

NHK public television said Mr Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner Komeito had won 69 seats in the upper house, with nine seats remaining. If Mr Abe gained support from members of another conservative party and independents, it would make only 76 seats, short of 85 he would have needed.

Mr Abe's ruling bloc already has a two-thirds majority in the lower house, but without such control of the upper chamber, he has a slim chance of achieving his long-held goal of constitutional reform.

Nonetheless, Mr Abe welcomed the results, saying winning a majority indicates a public mandate for his government.

"I believe the people chose political stability, urging us to pursue our policies and carry out diplomacy to protect Japan's national interests," Mr Abe said.

Mr Abe hopes to gain enough seats to boost his chances to revise Japan's pacifist constitution - his long-cherished goal before his term ends in 2021.

But it's a challenge because voters are more concerned about their jobs, economy and social security.

Mr Abe, who wants to bolster Japan's defence capability, is now proposing adding the Self-­Defence Force, or Japan's military, to the war-renouncing Article 9 of the constitution. He said he was not considering running for another term after leading his Liberal Democratic Party to five consecutive parliamentary election victories since 2012.

Irish Independent

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