Free Press Journal

Voting begins in Upper House as PM Abe looks forward to majority


Tokyo: Polling began in Japan today for half the seats in the Upper House of the Parliament considered to be important for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as it could ease his way to pass judgment on new economic policies and his much cherished goal of Constitution review.

The opposition parties are strongly against the revision of the pacifist Article 9 of the Constitution, which outlaws war as a means to settle international disputes involving the state and are thus focused on preventing a victory for the Prime Minister.

However, this election is for the less powerful Upper House and the outcome will not affect Abe’s position as the Prime Minister until the due general elections in 2018, reports the Japan Times.

Half the seats in the upper chamber are contested every three years, with lawmakers there serving six-year terms.

Prime Minister Abe has in his campaigns said he is seeking a mandate to press ahead with policies aimed at expanding the size of the economy to USD 6 trillion from USD 5 trillion.

However, he did not mention anything about revising Article 9 as the security legislation passed last year to expand the role of Japan’s armed forces amid a territorial standoff with China sparked a series of protests in the country.

The election will be the first national poll since the voting age was lowered to 18 from 20, adding about 2.4 million people to the electoral roll.

“These challenges are not easy there’s no simple solution but that’s why they need our best minds, our best brains, above all our best goodwill in our new parliament to deliver that,” he said.

After eight days of vote counting, Liberal-National coalition has won 74 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives and Labor was at 66 seats with five seats still too close to call.