Japan’s ruling coalition increases majority in parliament after Abe’s assassination – National | Globalnews.ca

Japan’s conservative coalition government increased its majority in the upper house of parliament in elections on Sunday, two days after the assassination of dominant politician and power broker Shinzo Abe.

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving modern leader, was shot dead Friday during a campaign speech in the western city of Nara in a killing that stunned a country where political violence and gun crime are rare.

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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), for which Abe remains an influential lawmaker, and his junior partner Komeito won 76 of the 125 contested seats in the chamber, up from 69 previously, according to an exit poll. from public broadcaster NHK.

The PLD won 63 seats, up from 55, to win the majority of the contested seats, but not enough to win a single majority overall.

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Elections for the less powerful upper house of parliament are usually a referendum on the incumbent government. The change of government was not at stake, since that is determined by the Lower House.

But the strong showing could help Kishida consolidate his rule as he seeks to steer Japan’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, rein in rising consumer prices and bolster defense at a time of tension with powerful neighbor China.

Final results are due on Monday afternoon.

Click to play video: 'The body of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives in Tokyo'

Body of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives in Tokyo

Body of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives in Tokyo

“It is significant that we were able to organize this election at a time when violence was shaking the very foundations of the election,” Kishida, an Abe protégé, said after the exit poll.

“At this time, when we are facing problems like the coronavirus, Ukraine and inflation, solidarity within the government and the coalition parties is vital,” he added.

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The party held a moment of silence for Abe at its Tokyo headquarters as members awaited the results.

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The profits may allow Kishida to revise Japan’s pacifist constitution, a dream Abe never achieved.

Parties open to revising the constitution maintained their two-thirds majority in the upper house.

Kishida may tread carefully on constitutional change, but the apparent victory seemed to pave the way for more defense spending, a key election promise of the LDP, said Robert Ward of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Kishida “now has the green light for this,” Ward said.

Asked about the constitutional review on Sunday night, Kishida said he would focus on drafting a bill to be discussed in parliament.

People close to Kishida have said his team also wants to phase out “Abenomics,” Japan’s signature economic policy of government spending and monetary stimulus named after the former prime minister who started the experiment nearly a decade ago.

Click to Play Video: 'Death of Shinzo Abe: World Leaders React to Assassination of Japan's Former Prime Minister'

Death of Shinzo Abe: World leaders react to the assassination of Japan’s former prime minister

Death of Shinzo Abe: World leaders react to the assassination of Japan’s former prime minister

Kishida may now have the political capital to change course, analysts said, and he also likely has three years to push through the legislation before another election is due to be held.

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“Kishida may have more leeway to implement policies based on his ideas, although lawmakers who were close to Abe may band together and call more openly for Abenomics to stay,” said Koya Miyamae, senior economist at SMBC Nikko Securities.

Shigenobu Tamura, a political analyst and former LDP member, said Abe’s assassination may have bolstered support for the ruling party in “hotly contested districts”.

Other analysts said the exit poll was broadly in line with pre-election polls. Voter turnout was expected to rise to 51.58% from 48.8% in the last upper house election three years ago, the Kyodo news agency estimated.

The Japan Innovation Party, a conservative opposition party, won 12 seats, expanding its overall position in the upper house to 21 seats.

Abe was puzzled by LDP candidate Kei Sato in Nara when he was shot at close range by a man with a homemade gun.

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The former prime minister “was shot in an act of terrorism in the middle of our election campaign,” Sato said after exit polling projected he would win his seat. “We continue our campaign with the belief that we must not give in to terrorism or fear it, we must defeat it.”

Nara police said on Sunday they had seized a motorcycle and a vehicle belonging to the suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, who was arrested at the scene.

Police said they recovered foil-wrapped trays from the vehicle, which they said the suspect told them he had used to dry gunpowder, and wooden boards with holes in them that he said he had used to test his crude wood-and-metal gun.

Click to play video: 'Trudeau offers condolences to the family of Japan's Shinzo Abe, calls him a 'strong and compassionate leader'

Trudeau offers his condolences to the family of Japanese Shinzo Abe and calls him a “strong and compassionate leader”

Trudeau offers his condolences to the family of Japanese Shinzo Abe and calls him a “strong and compassionate leader”

The suspect told police he spent months planning the attack and accused the former prime minister of having ties to a religious group he blames for his mother’s financial ruin, according to Japanese media. read full story

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Police said the suspect told them he arrived at a station near the scene more than an hour before the attack and spent the time visiting shopping complexes.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies in Tokyo and Satoshi Sugiyama in Nara Additional reporting by Kevin Buckland, Yoshifumi Takemoto Kiyoshi Takenaka, Kantaro Komiya, and Mariko Katsumura in Tokyo, and Tim Kelly in Nara Written by John Geddie Edited by William Mallard, Frances Kerry, and Sam Holmes )

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