Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition won the Upper House election on July 21 but his long-held hope of constitutional reform moved further out of reach after pro-amendment forces lost the two-thirds majority needed to initiate it.
The coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, along with like-minded opposition and independent lawmakers, garnered 81 seats in the election. Half of the Upper House seats were uncontested in the poll, so the reform bloc has only 160 seats, short of the 164 needed to propose a change to the pacifist Constitution.
Abe has set his sights on revising the Constitution in 2020 but the pro-amendment camp’s failure to hold on to their two-thirds majority means the LDP leader faces the daunting task of winning support from opposition parties if he wants to achieve his goal.
Still, the ruling parties secured 71 of the 124 seats up for grabs in the 245-member House of Councillors — 57 by the LDP and 14 by Komeito — crossing the line of a majority of contested seats set by senior party executives for determining victory.
Speaking after the votes were counted, Abe said the results showed voters had chosen political stability, his theme during the election campaign.
“We’ve secured a mandate to steadily carry out our policies,” he said. (Kyodo)