Abe claims victory in upper house polls
PRIME Minister Shinzo Abe claimed victory for his ruling coalition in parliamentary elections, which came despite lukewarm public support for his economic policies and wariness over amending the country’s pacifist constitution.
Mr Abe, in power since late 2012, has yet to achieve a strong recovery in the world’s third-largest economy through unconventional measures centred on massive easy money and other steps – so-called Abenomics.
Voters have also expressed misgivings about his cherished dream of making changes to the country’s constitution, imposed by the United States after Japan’s defeat in World War II and prohibiting it from waging war.
But his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the Buddhist-backed Komeito gained as public confidence in the ability of opposition parties was even lower.
Mr Abe seized on the election results for half the seats in parliament’s upper house as a vote of confidence.
“I’m relieved that we were able to secure more than ... half the seats contested,” he told private broadcaster TBS television about two hours after polls closed at 8pm on July 10.
“I think [voters] told us to firmly accelerate Abenomics.”
The LDP and Komeito were set to take at least 66 of the 121 seats up for grabs – half the chamber’s total – up from 59 previously, public broadcaster NHK said.
The House of Councillors, as the upper house is formally known, is the less powerful chamber in Japan’s bicameral legislature, and half its seats come up for election every three years. –
A banner reads “We stand with the bereaved” in a street near an upscale restaurant, which was the site of a bloody siege that ended in the death of 22, in Dhaka on July 5.