Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition won a landslide victory on Sunday in an election for parliament’s upper house, despite concerns about his economic policies and plans to revise the nation’s post-war pacifist constitution for the first time.
Final counts showed Abe’s coalition, like-minded parties and independents had won the two-thirds “super majority” needed to try to revise the constitution’s restraints on the military, a step that could strain ties with China, where memories of Japan’s past militarism run deep. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) fell one short of winning a simple majority, which would have increased its clout within the coalition. Earlier projections had shown it was within their grasp for the first time since 1989.
Nevertheless, the overall victory will still bolster Abe’s grip over the conservative party that he led back to power in 2012 promising to reboot the economy with hyper-easy monetary policy, fiscal spending and reforms. Abe’s junior coalition partner, Komeito, fared well, winning 14 seats compared with nine before the election. Any attempt to revise the constitution will still be politically fraught and LDP heavyweights have suggested that amending the pacifist Article 9 would not be the first priority.