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POLITICS

PM Abe’s “three targets” for Upper House election

  • 2016-01-13 15:00:00
  • , Nikkei
  • Translation

(Nikkei: January 13, 2016 – p. 4)

 

 Many government and ruling coalition officials are now actively talking about the number of seats they would like to win in this summer’s House of Councillors election. At his first press conference of the year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the goal was a majority of the Upper House seats. He also said on Jan. 10 that he would aim for a two-thirds majority for constitutional amendment. In the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, some members are calling for winning a single-party majority for the first time in a quarter of a century. Nikkei explored the significance of the “three targets.”

 

 Abe said at his New Year’s press conference on Jan. 4: “To implement stable politics under the coalition government of the LDP and Komeito party, we would like to secure a majority in the Upper House election.”

 

 Since there are 76 ruling coalition members whose seats are not up for reelection in the Upper House, the ruling camp needs to win 46 seats to achieve a simple majority of 122. If Komeito secures nine seats up for grabs, then the LDP can lose 13 of 50 seats up for reelection and the ruling coalition can still achieve a simple majority. A majority consisting of members of the ruling coalition is the minimal goal—a goal that avoids a “twisted” Diet.

 

 The LDP has not secured a single-party majority since its crushing defeat in the 1989 Upper House election. The LDP and Komeito have formed a majority in the Upper House since 1999, cooperating in elections. So there is the view that “securing a ruling-party majority” is Abe’s way of showing consideration for Komeito.

 

 Many observers believe the LDP’s true goal is to gain a solo majority for the first time in 27 years since 1989. Chuichi Date, secretary general of the LDP caucus in the Upper House, said at a press conference on Jan. 8: “Frankly speaking, we want to secure a solo majority.” In order to secure a single-party majority, the LDP should win 57 seats.

 

 It appears difficult for the LDP to secure two-thirds of the Upper House seats, the number required for constitutional revision, Abe’s long-cherished goal. At least 78 seats, including seats won by Initiatives from Osaka and the Party for Japanese Kokoro, would be necessary. (Abridged)

 

 Prime Minister Abe’s three targets for Upper House election

 

· Ideal

 

78 seats for two-thirds required for constitutional amendment

 

· Actual goal?

 

57 seats required for securing a majority by LDP alone for the first time in 27 years

 

· Playing it safe

 

46 seats won by LDP and Komeito to avoid “twisted” Diet

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