Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Abe set to retain majority in Japan elections

Abe set to retain majority in Japan elections

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Japanese Prime Minister and ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) president Shinzo Abe (R) attaches paper flowers on the winning candidates of the Parliament's upper house election at the party's headquarters in Tokyo. AFP

Abe set to retain majority in Japan elections

Japanese voters cast ballots on Sunday in an upper house election, with Shinzo Abe’s ruling bloc looking to protect its majority and keep on track plans to amend the country’s pacifist constitution.

The 64-year-old Abe, who is on course to become Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, is also hoping to shore up his mandate ahead of a crucial consumption tax hike later this year, along with trade negotiations with Washington.

Opinion polls suggest his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partner Komeito are likely to win a majority, mostly due to a lacklustre opposition.

Sunday’s vote is for half the seats in the House of Councillors – the less powerful upper house of parliament.

Voting began across the country at 7:00am (2200 GMT Saturday) on Sunday.

Pollsters suggested turnout could be lower than 50 per cent, significantly less than usual.

“I support the current government because I see no alternative,” said Yoshiko Iida, a 45-year-old beauty therapist.

“Opposition parties are woeful,” she said. “I don’t want to leave power to them.”

Susumu Rokkaku, an 85-year-old male pensioner, said: “I voted for an opposition candidate but whoever is elected, nothing will change. I have no expectations.”

Abe’s ruling coalition is forecast to win a solid majority of the 124 seats up for grabs, according to pre-election surveys.

If he wins, Abe should be able to stay in power until November when he will break the record of the nation’s longest-serving premiership held by Taro Katsura, a revered politician who served three times between 1901 and 1913.

During campaigns, Abe’s ruling coalition has sought to win voter support for a rise in the nation’s consumption tax to 10 per cent later this year as part of efforts to ease swelling social security costs in the “ultra-aged” country.

Abe is hoping that his coalition and a loose group of conservatives from smaller opposition parties can grab a two-thirds majority in the upper house, giving him the support to move ahead with plans to amend the constitution’s provisions on the military.

Abe vowed earlier this month to “clearly stipulate the role of the Self-Defence Forces in the constitution”, which prohibits Japan from waging war and maintaining a military.

The provisions, imposed by the US after World War II, are popular with the public at large, but reviled by nationalists like Abe, who see them as outdated and punitive.

Voter turnout stood at 18.02 per cent as of 2:00pm, down 4.52 points from the 2016 election.

MOST VIEWED

  • LPG gas explosion injures 13 people, including foreigners, in Siem Reap

    An explosion on Wednesday at a liquid petroleum gas (LPG) car and tuk-tuk refuelling station in Siem Reap city has left 13 people, including an American and a Briton, suffering burns. The seven most severely burned, including a provincial police officer, were sent to a Thai

  • Over 100 Chinese nationals to be deported for online scam

    The Ministry of Interior is planning to deport 128 Chinese nationals after they were arrested in Preah Sihanouk province on Wednesday for their alleged involvement in an online money extortion scam. Y Sokhy, the head of the Department of Counter-terrorism and Transnational Crime, told The Post

  • More than 800 people test positive for HIV in 2018

    The National Aids Authority (NAA) said more than 800 people tested positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) last year, joining over 76,000 others aged between 15 and 49 in the Kingdom already infected with the virus. The spread of HIV/AIDS in the Kingdom is showing few signs of

  • Rainsy vow to return on Nov 9 dismissed as ‘political warfare’

    An announcement from the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) that its “acting president” Sam Rainsy would return to the Kingdom on November 9 was dismissed on Sunday as “political warfare”. The CNRP made the announcement on Friday after a permanent committee meeting chaired by