Ruling bloc victory boosts majority

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, fourth from left, places a pink rose to mark a winner in the House of Councillors election at the Liberal Democratic Party’s headquarters in Tokyo on Sunday.

The Liberal Democratic Party and its ruling coalition partner Komeito will win at least 70 seats, more than half of all those being contested, in the House of Councillors election on Sunday, according to an unofficial count by The Yomiuri Shimbun.

Including the 70 seats the coalition already holds, the ruling bloc is assured of retaining its majority in the 248-member chamber with this election.

“Grateful results have been shown in the votes the LDP and Komeito won,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on an NHK TV program Sunday night. “However, we have also heard harsh voices during the election campaign. I take them as encouragement for us and want to carry out political activities with great responsibility.”

There were 124 seats up for grabs to fill six-year terms in the upper house, plus one vacancy that will be filled to serve out the remaining three years of that seat.

Polls closed at 8 p.m. nationwide for the 26th House of Councillors election.

Kishida, who is also president of the ruling party, and other LDP officials offered prayers at party headquarters in Tokyo on Sunday for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was fatally shot on Friday.

After the prayers, Kishida put flower decorations beside the names of candidates who were set to secure seats, but his expression remained somber.

Regarding the reshuffling of the Cabinet and the LDP executive, Kishida said: “I want to consider the future political schedule carefully after receiving all the election results. As we are still waiting for election results, I have not yet decided on the specifics.”

As for constitutional amendment, Kishida stressed, “To gain public understanding, we first want to deepen constitutional discussions in the Diet and focus on devising a concrete proposal that can be put forward.”

After making gains in the House of Representatives election last autumn, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) looked set to increase its seats in the upper house beyond the six that it was defending.

The election was officially announced on June 22. During the election campaign, political parties debated such issues as the handling of soaring prices and a revision of Japan’s security policy in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The total number of upper house seats increased by three to 248 with this election because of the 2018 revision of the Public Offices Election Law. Half the seats are up for election every three years, meaning there were 124 seats being contested by candidates wishing to be an upper house member for a six-year term. A 125th member was also set to be elected to serve the remaining three years of the vacant seat in the Kanagawa Constituency.

There were 545 announced candidates: 367 running for the 75 seats decided in constituencies and 178 standing for the 50 seats given out in the proportional representation section.