Shinzo Abe has won a sweeping victory in elections to Japan’s upper house, leaving him within reach of a parliamentary supermajority that would allow the government to revise Japan’s pacifist constitution.
With seven proportional representation seats left to declare on Sunday night, Mr Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic party and its allies had won 72 out of the 78 seats they need for a two-thirds majority.
Toru Takigishi, a 76-year-old chemistry professor in Tokyo and a long-time LDP supporter, said he voted for the Communist party for the first time. “I’m happy with the current constitution and I want peace to be maintained. At least there is a checking mechanism for constitutional change under the Communist party,” Mr Takigishi said.
Japan Election Boosts Shinzo Abe’s Bid to Revise Constitution
The Wall Street Journal reports Japan Election Boosts Shinzo Abe’s Bid to Revise Constitution
With most results in, Mr. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner, Komeito, were on track to win nearly 70 of 121 seats that were up for grabs in the 242-seat upper house. A handful of seats remained undecided early Monday.
The coalition parties plus smaller opposition parties and unaffiliated lawmakers who favor constitutional revision were likely to control two-thirds of Parliament’s upper house after the election, projections by Japanese media showed. Revision requires two-thirds of both houses of Parliament, after which the changes must be approved by a majority of voters in a national referendum. The coalition already controls two-thirds of the lower house, which wasn’t up for election, meaning Mr. Abe has the votes to start the revision process.
Any move to change the constitution is likely to spark a divisive battle. Last year, Mr. Abe’s government enacted a bill allowing Japanese troops to fight overseas along with the country’s allies, following a controversial reinterpretation of one article of the constitution.
The move prompted months of protests, some attracting tens of thousands of people. Though the security bill was passed by both houses of Parliament, experts testified that it was unconstitutional.
With the election over, Mr. Abe will likely focus on passing the stimulus package, a task that has gained urgency since the U.K.’s decision last month to leave the European Union cast further uncertainty over the global economy.
Mr. Abe hasn’t disclosed any details, but the stimulus program is expected to be a multiyear effort to upgrade the nation’s transport infrastructure, expand child care and nursing-care services and create scholarships for students.
Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan is widely expected to expand its efforts to stoke growth and inflation when its policy board meets July 28-29. Its most likely options are increasing the size of its unprecedented asset-purchase program and pushing a key interest rate on bank reserves further into negative territory.
For further discussion of warmongering possibilities, please see Japan’s Abe Angling for War with China? Could the US be Drawn In?
Mike “Mish” Shedlock