Pro-amendment camp loses 2/3 majority

NHK -- Jul 22
Japan's ruling coalition is set to maintain control of the Upper House following Sunday's election. But it fell short of maintaining a key threshold. The coalition and lawmakers in favor of amending the Constitution will not hold a two-thirds majority of the chamber.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner, Komeito, secured a total of 141 seats in the Upper Chamber.

They will not return to the Diet with their pre-election strength.

Meanwhile, the opposition camp secured a total of 104 seats.

That includes their uncontested seats. Only half of the chamber's seats were up for grabs on Sunday.

The ruling coalition, Nippon Ishin, plus other lawmakers in favor of changing the Constitution, secured a total of 160 seats.

That's short of 164 or two-thirds of the chamber.

That level of support is needed in both houses to put a Constitutional amendment proposal to a national referendum.

Still, Abe says securing a majority of the seats that were up for grabs shows the public wants political stability.

And he says it gives him a mandate to push forward with his political and diplomatic agenda.

Abe said "Many said it would be extremely difficult to gain a majority when advocating tax hikes. But we have the public's understanding. This upper house election was not about winning two-thirds of the seats, it was about maintaining stability. We achieved that goal. We will now try and gain the support of two-thirds of lawmakers on the constitutional amendment through discussions at the Commission on the Constitution. We asked voters if they want discussions or not... and they gave us a majority. So we would like to have a thorough debate."

Meanwhile, the leader of the largest opposition, the Constitutional Democratic Party, is hoping to enhance cooperation among the opposition bloc, which gained strength.

Yukio Edano said "We'd like to strengthen cooperation among opposition parties even more, so in the next election we can try to become a governing force.

A considerable amount of voters said no to tax hikes. So we'd like to have discussions in the Diet about the current economic situation. We want to talk about how to use tax revenue for social security, as well as the overall structure of the tax system."

During the election campaign, candidates discussed a number of issues, including the consumption tax hike scheduled for October, amending the Constitution and the state's pension system.