July 21st’s Election in Japan Gives Stronger Mandate to PM Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party

Article with video on Sky News website here: http://news.sky.com/story/1118836/japan-election-shinzo-abe-hails-landslide-win

The Japanese prime minister's ruling coalition has won a solid majority in the country's upper house elections, gaining control of both chambers of parliament.

Shinzo Abe's decisive win is being seen as a mandate to press ahead with difficult economic reforms - an endorsement for the Liberal Democratic Party's 'Abenomics' programme, which has helped spark a tentative economic recovery in Japan.

The LDP and its new coalition partner Komeito now have 135 of the 242 seats in the upper house, after winning 76 of the 121 seats that were contested this time around.

The country's main opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan, has just 59.

Members serve six-year terms and elections are held for half of the seats every three years.


Banri Kaieda, head of the main opposition party, bows his head in defeat

The landslide victory means both legislative chambers are now under government control until at least 2016, unblocking the bottleneck that has hampered legislation for the last six short-term leaders.

Fresh from his win in Sunday's polls, Mr Abe vowed to stay focused on reviving the stagnant economy during a news conference on Monday.

He said: "If we retreat from reforms and return to the old Liberal Democratic Party, we will lose the confidence of the people,"

He emphasised that his priority remains proceeding with his Abenomics programme of hyper-easy monetary policy, government spending and economic reform, describing it as the cornerstone of other policy goals.

"It is not easy to overcome 15 years of deflation," he said.

Shinzo Abe celebrates his party's win
Mr Abe celebrates his win, having placed a rose on an LDP candidate's name

"It is a historic project. We will concentrate on that. We won't be able to strengthen the financial base for social security without a strong economy. The same goes for security and diplomacy."

The win also raises the chances of a long-term Japanese leader for the first time since the reformist Junichiro Koizumi's rare five-year term ended in 2006.

It ends a parliamentary deadlock that began in 2007 when Mr Abe, then in his first term as prime minister, led his party to a humiliating upper house defeat that later forced him to resign.

However, the LDP remains short of a majority on its own.

Despite the hefty win, Mr Abe's mandate was undercut by low voter turnout, with 52.61% of eligible voters casting ballots, more than five percentage points below the turnout in the last upper house poll in 2010.

Investors appeared to back the election outcome, which sent Tokyo's Nikkei index up shortly after the stock exchange's opening bell.



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