Abe Explains Agenda After Upper House Election

Abe explains agenda after Upper House election

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the results of Sunday's Upper House election show that the people of Japan want political stability. He stressed his commitment to pursuing his political and diplomatic agenda, including possibly amending the Constitution.

Abe noted that the ruling coalition won 71 seats, or a majority. He said it was able to receive a strong public mandate to push forward with efforts to build a better country in the Reiwa era, which started this year, on a stable political foundation.

However, the coalition and lawmakers in favor of amending the Constitution fell short of maintaining a two-thirds majority in the chamber. That level of support is needed in both houses to put a constitutional amendment proposal to a national referendum.

Abe's Liberal Democratic Party is proposing amendments in four areas, including adding a reference to Japan's Self-Defense Forces in the Constitution. Article 9 renounces war and prohibits Japan from maintaining a military.

Abe said that during the campaign, he repeatedly reminded the public that it was choosing between political parties willing to proceed with discussion on the Constitution, and those that refuse even to talk about the issue.

He said the election results show that the matter should at least be debated, and that he would like the opposition parties to accept this.

He said he was convinced that lawmakers on the Diet's Commission on the Constitution will hold serious discussions regardless of whether they belong to the ruling or the opposition camp.

Abe touched on relations with South Korea, which have grown increasingly tense over wartime labor and other historical issues.

He said the biggest issue facing Japan-South Korea relations is whether promises between the countries will be kept. He pointed out that South Korea unilaterally took action in violation of a bilateral agreement signed in 1965, which settled the right to claim compensation. He says Seoul is failing to comply with an international pact that served as the basis for the two countries to normalize relations.

Abe also mentioned that South Korea is unilaterally breaking bilateral international promises, such as the 2015 agreement on wartime comfort women. He said Japan would like Korea to keep its promises.

Abe is on track to become the country's longest-serving prime minister this November.