Japan's ruling bloc to claim hefty win in upper house elections: Surveys

Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe. Photograph:( Getty )

Reuters Japan Jun 24, 2016, 02.23 AM (IST)
Along with the like-minded allies, Japan’s ruling bloc might be able to claim a hefty win in a July 10 upper house election, surveys claimed Friday. This may also allow it to open the path to revising the postwar, pacifist constitution for the first time. 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe`s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) also has a shot at the 57 seats needed to obtain a majority on its own for the first time since losing control of the chamber in 1989, the Nikkei business daily and other newspapers said.

In the 242-member chamber, Abe is casting the election for half the seats as a referendum on his decision to delay a planned hike in an unpopular sales tax and his "Abenomics" recipe of hyper-easy monetary policy, spending and reform, amid growing doubts whether the strategy is working.

Abe’s coalition might be in no danger of losing power in the election but it needs a solid victory to keep his party`s lawmakers in line and perhaps stay on another three years after his tenure as LDP president ends in 2018.

While the premier has played down his goal of revising the constitution, conservatives see it as a humiliating symbol of Japan’s World War Two defeat. Admirers, however, consider it the source of the country`s peace and democracy.

The opposition Democratic Party and three small parties, backed by grassroots groups, are trying to keep the ruling camp and its allies from winning the two-thirds needed to begin the process of revising the constitution. Revision requires a two-thirds majority in the upper house and the lower chamber, where the ruling bloc already has such a "super majority", and a majority in a public referendum.

Meanwhile, the Nikkei has said that the LDP and its junior partner, the Komeito party, were on track to exceed their target of 61 seats, or a majority of those up for grabs. The Democrats, who have struggled to regain trust after a rocky 2009-2012 rule, looked likely to win around 30 seats, the surveys have further suggested.

A Mainichi newspaper poll showed 45 percent opposed revision versus 36 percent in favour. Other newspapers` polls showed similar results, although up to 35 percent of voters were undecided. "If the opposition is going to do well, it will have to depend on those voters whom the polls cannot count - the undecided, the unaffiliated, etc.," said Chuo University political scientist Steven Reed.