Abe set to be top of the polls

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 22 Jul 2019

Japanese voters yesterday cast ballots in an upper house election, with Shinzo Abe's ruling bloc looking to hold its majority.

Abe, 64, who is on course to become Japan's longest-serving prime minister, is hoping to shore up his mandate ahead of a consumption tax hike this year and relaxing the pacifist constitution.

Opinion polls point to his Liberal Democratic Party and coalition partner Komeito winning a majority of 124 seats being contested in the House of Councillors, the less powerful upper house of parliament.

Abe already controls 70 seats in the half of the chamber that is not being contested.

"Abe's strength is largely based on passive support resulting from opposition disarray," said Shinichi Nishikawa, a professor of political science at Tokyo's Meiji University.

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

During campaigns, Abe's ruling coalition has sought to win support for a rise in the consumption tax to 10 percent later as part of efforts to ease swelling social security costs.

Abe also hopes his coalition and conservatives from smaller opposition parties can grab a two-thirds majority in the upper house to give him the support to move ahead with plans to amend the constitution's provisions on the military.


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