Shinzo Abe seeks to reaffirm his mandate in Japan’s upper house election

124 of 245 seats in Japan’s House of Councillors are up for grabs today in an election seen as pivotal

japan upper house election

Photo: AP

124 of 245 seats in Japan’s House of Councillors are up for grabs today in an election seen as pivotal for the direction of Japanese politics and foreign policy.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of the Liberal Democratic Party is focused on amending Article 9 of the constitution, which outlaws war as a means of settling international disputes involving the Japanese state. Abe needs at least 85 seats to attain a combined two-thirds majority to facilitate the constitutional amendment. The Komeito (the LDP’s junior coalition partner) does not agree with the revisions.

On the foreign policy front, the prime minister is insistent on maintaining the international coalition of sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear weapons program, but does not feel that his efforts are mirrored by traditional allies such South Korea and the USA. To Abe, revising the post-war constitution seems like better insurance for the future of Japanese national security.

Should Abe not receive the two-thirds majority necessary to amend the constitution, it is doubtful that it will ever be attained during his premiership due to a disagreeing public and a pacifistic coalition partner.

Abe’s LDP party are favourites to win the election, with surveys suggesting a number between 47 and 63 seats. Policy direction will be determined by the margin of victory, though only 59% of LDP supporters and 40% of Komeito supporters back a constitutional amendment to Article 9.

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