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House of Councilors election 10 July 2016

The ruling camp of the LDP and the Komeito, as well as other two small opposition parties, together won two-thirds majority in the chamber, so as to launch a Constitution amendment motion in the future. Combined with their uncontested seats in the upper house, the Constitution review bloc needed to secure 78 positions in the contest on so as to take a two-thirds majority in the upper house.

Prime Minister Abe's governing coalition surpassed the benchmark he set before the election, a majority of the contested seats or 61. The coalition consists of Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and its partner Komeito. The governing coalition and 2 smaller parties in favor of changing the Constitution reached two-thirds of the seats in the chamber. Half seats in the 242-member chamber was contested in the election and the ruling camp was on track to win nearly 70 of 121 seats that were up for grabs in the 242-seat upper house. A handful of seats remained undecided.

Revision of the constitution requires two-thirds of both houses of Parliament, after which the changes must be approved by a majority of voters in a national referendum. The coalition already controlled two-thirds of the lower house, which wasn’t up for election, meaning Abe had the votes to start the revision process.

The head of Komeito, the LDP's coalition partner, said the ruling parties secured a majority in the Upper House through unity and cooperation. Komeito Chief Representative Natsuo Yamaguchi maintained a cautious stance regarding possible revision of war-renouncing Article 9 of Japan's Constitution. He said that such an amendment is unnecessary for the time being, as the government and the ruling parties hammered out their basic views on the Constitution when they drafted national security legislation, which is now in place.

Though the prime minister denied the possibility of a double upper and lower house election at a press conference on the evening of 29 March 2016, the DP believed it was highly likely that the elections will be held on the same day. If that is the case, the chances of the election being held for the current 475 seats are great, and the DP would have to field 238 candidates if it was to aim for a majority. For the moment, however, the party only had about 190 candidates, and would have to field about 50 more in a short span of time.

Opposition parties such as the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party, and the People's Life Party & Taro Yamamoto and Friends sought that opposition parties back the same candidates against ruling coalition candidates. If the DP were to go ahead with fielding and backing its own unique candidates, the other opposition parties were expected to express strong objections.

On 02 June 2016 Japan's government formally scheduled an Upper House [House of Councilors] election for 10 July 2016. The government also decided that election campaigning would officially start on June 22nd and last for 18 days -- one day longer than a normal Upper House election. Government officials say that if campaigning began as usual, it would start on June 23rd, when Okinawa commemorates the end of fierce ground battles in the closing days of World War Two.

Major issues in the election were expected to include Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic policy known as Abenomics and Japan's right to collective self-defense. Up for grabs in the vote are 121 seats -- 73 in electoral districts and 48 in the proportional representation system. Japan's voting age was lowered from 20 to 18 starting with the election, adding around 2.4 million people to the country's voting population.

Political leaders across Japan took to the streets 22 June 2016 to appeal to voters. They have kicked off their campaigns for the Upper House election set for 10 July 2016. The official campaign runs for 18 days. Candidates are debating economic policies, new national security laws and the idea of amending the Constitution.

Half of the 242 Upper House seats are at stake every 3 years. They are divided between electoral districts and a proportional representation system. Some 225 people are running for the electoral districts. And 164 people for proportional representation. The parties and political groups fielding candidates for electoral districts are: Liberal Democratic Party, Democratic Party, Komeito, Japanese Communist Party, Initiatives from Osaka, Social Democratic Party, Party for Japanese Kokoro, New Renaissance Party, GenzeiNippon, Happiness Realization Party, Angry Voice of the People, Shijiseitonashi, other groups and Independents.

The parties and political groups vying for proportional representation seats, in order of entry, are: Social Democratic Party, Angry Voice of the People, Initiatives from Osaka, Komeito, Japanese Communist Party, Happiness Realization Party, Liberal Democratic Party, New Renaissance Party, Party for Japanese Kokoro, People's Life Party, Democratic Party, and Shijiseitonashi (No Party to Support).

  1. Shinzo Abe, President of the Liberal Democratic Party, said, "I thought I must launch my election campaign from Kumamoto. I thought I will convey to the entire nation our commitment to rebuilding Kumamoto after the earthquakes. The key issue of this election is economic policy. Opposition party members cannot open their mouths without criticizing. All they say is 'Abenomics has failed'. This fight is about whether to advance or retreat. Are we going to vigorously push forward Abenomics to see Japan grow and each region prosper, and to create a country where everyone can feel the economy is picking up? Or will we go back to 4 years ago? Are we going to return to that dark and sluggish period? This is the decision you're making in this election."
  2. Democratic Party President Katsuya Okada said, "We'll bring the Abe administration's reckless drive to an end, and change the political landscape. If we allow the parties that want to change the Constitution to get two thirds of the seats, they're certain to push the changes through, especially to Article 9. They want to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense without any limits. We should not allow the Japan-US alliance to be forged in blood. Many young people are not seeing their salaries increase and they're giving up on marriage, even people in their 30's and 40's. It's a reality in Japan. The government should pursue economic policies to balance development and a fairer distribution of wealth. Abe's government says it will expand the economy and then the wealth will trickle down to the people. But Abenomics is the wrong direction for Japan."
  3. Komeito Chief Representative Natsuo Yamaguchi said, "We have delivered results steadily over the past 3 years aiming at reviving the economy and ending deflation. Tax revenue has increased. It's important to distribute the outcome achieved by the coalition government to those people yet to benefit from 'Abenomics'. We cannot hand the administration to the Democratic and Japanese Communist Parties. They're fielding unified candidates with no clear explanation of their responsibilities after the election."
  4. Japanese Communist Party Chairperson Kazuo Shii said, "The 4 parties are brought together in the common cause of abolishing the security laws and restoring constitutionalism. To put it simply, we need to restore a proper government that adheres to the Constitution. This should be the utmost priority and we should put policy differences aside. We're questioning the Abe administration, which goes against public opinion."
  5. Initiatives from Osaka Leader Ichiro Matsui said, "Stingy is the key word. We're being stingy at the Osaka prefectural and city governments so as not to waste a single pencil, or a piece of paper. It's natural in Osaka. If we can do small things like that across the country, there will be no need to increase taxes. On the issue of politics and money, we want to review the political funds control law, which has loopholes."
  6. Social Democratic Party Leader Tadatomo Yoshida said, "This Upper House election is about stopping reckless Abe politics, which don't follow the Constitution and also fail to consider people's lives and their livelihoods. Through the pacifist Constitution that our party has made use of and has protected, let's aim for a country that won't go to war."
  7. People's Life Party President Ichiro Ozawa said, "If the Prime Minister keeps trying to rev up and pursue Abenomics, it will put the country's future and people's lives at risk. Bearing that thought in mind, opposition parties should unite. Our first objective is to replace the Prime Minister."
  8. Party for Japanese Kokoro [heart] Chairperson Kyoko Nakayama said, "The Constitution itself should express the character of Japanese people. It should reflect Japanese traditions and the Japanese spirit. We should build a nation that is seen as trustworthy and amicable by the international community."
  9. New Renaissance Party President Hiroyuki Arai said, "You can't just take Abenomics and rev up its engine to create success. If we want to solve real problems, we have to turn the wheel and steer in the direction of real people and their households."
  10. Shiji Seitou Nashi (No Party to Support) is the third political party Hidemitsu Sano has organized. He previously ran as the head of Shinto Honshitsu (New Principle Party) and Anrakushi To (Euthanasia Party). The basic idea is to offer an alternative to blank votes, which voters often cast in protest over existing parties.

Prime Minister Abe said that his ruling bloc aims to win a majority of seats contested this time. That's 61 of the 121 seats up for grabs. This could pave the way for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to make history: to revise the US-drafted Constitution that nationalists see as a humiliating remnant of Japan’s World War II defeat. Although Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner, Komeito, already held a two-thirds majority in the 475-seat Lower House, they had yet to achieve this in the 242-seat Upper House.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2016 12:10:53 ZULU