Japan’s ruling coalition secures power in elections marred by Shinzo Abe’s death

Japan’s conservative coalition government increased its majority in the upper house of parliament in an election two days after the assassination of influential politician and influencer Shinzo Abe.
Mr. Abe, Japan’s longest-serving contemporary leader, was gunned down Friday during a campaign speech in the western city of Nara. The killing stunned a country where political violence and gun crime are rare.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), in which Abe remained a powerful lawmaker, and its junior partner Komeito won 76 of the 125 seats contested in the House, up from 69 earlier, according to an exit poll conducted Sunday by the public broadcaster. NHC.
The LDP won 63 seats, compared to 55, to win a majority of the contested seats, but not enough to win a single majority overall.

Elections to the less powerful upper house of parliament are usually a referendum on the incumbent government. A change of government was not at stake, as this was determined by the lower house.

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But good results could help Mr Kishida solidify his rule as he hopes to lead Japan’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, contain rising consumer prices and bolster defenses at a time of tension with powerful neighbor China.
The final results will be known on Monday afternoon.
“It is remarkable that we were able to hold this election together at a time when violence was shaking the foundations of the election,” Mr. Kishida, an Abe protégé, said after the exit poll.

“Now that we are facing issues like coronavirus, Ukraine and inflation, solidarity within the government and coalition parties is vital,” he added.

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The party honored Abe with a moment of silence at its headquarters in Tokyo as members waited for the results.
Achievements may allow Mr. Kishida to revise Japan’s pacifist constitution, a dream Mr. Abe never realized.

Parties open to constitutional revision retained their two-thirds majority in the upper house.

Japanese upper house elections

Japanese Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democratic Party Fumio Kishida attached a rosette to a name board. Source: A MONKEY / AP

People close to Mr. Kishida say his team also wants to phase out “Abenomics,” Japan’s trademark economic policy of public spending and monetary stimulus, named after the ex-premier who started the experiment nearly a decade ago.

Mr Kishida may now have the political capital to change course, and he is also likely to have three years to pass legislation before new elections need to be held, analysts said.

Abe effect

Mr. Abe was campaigning for LDP candidate Kei Sato in Nara when he was shot at close range by a man with a makeshift pistol.
The ex-premier “was shot dead in a terrorist attack in the middle of our election campaign,” Sato said after an exit poll showed he would win his seat.

“We continued our campaign, believing that we should not give in to terrorism or be afraid of it – we should overcome it.”

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Nara police said Sunday they have confiscated a motorcycle and car belonging to the suspect, 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, who was arrested at the scene.
Police said they recovered aluminum foil-wrapped trays from the car, which they said the suspect used to dry gunpowder, and wooden boards with holes, which he said he used to test-fire his crude wooden weapons. and metal. .

The suspect told police that he had been planning the attack for months, accusing the former prime minister of links to a religious group he blames for his mother’s financial ruin, Japanese media reported.