Analysis Of Upper House Election Results

Analysis of Upper House election results

NHK World commentator Michio Kijima explains the outcome of the Upper House elections.

Q: What do you make of the results?

KIJIMA: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the coalition has gotten support from voters. But things aren't so rosy for his Liberal Democratic Party.

After winning a record number of seats in the 2013 Upper House election, it has not been able to match that tally.

The ruling coalition has also been unable to maintain two-thirds of the chamber. And that means Abe will have a harder time moving forward with his goal of amending the Constitution.

Now, in terms of the opposition, the largest Constitutional Democratic Party has made major gains. It has roughly doubled the number of seats it held before the election.

But at the end of the day, the ruling coalition has been able to maintain its majority.

Q: Why did voters opt to support the ruling coalition once again?

KIJIMA: One of the reasons is that they gave Shinzo Abe credit for doing well on the economy. Unemployment is low, and stock prices remain high.

The opposition side doubled down on a recent controversy about the social security system. It began when the government rejected a report that warned elderly couples may need a huge amount of savings to supplement their pensions.

The opposition also accused the LDP of behaving arrogantly after several years in power. But these talking points apparently did not resonate with voters.

And that could be one of the reasons why the voter turnout rate was so low, around 48 percent.

That's the second lowest in the history of Upper House elections.

Q: And how do you think the election results will affect the prime minister's policies?

KIJIMA: Abe has already come out and said he will go ahead with the consumption tax hike from 8 to 10 percent in October.

Abe also has a number of challenges ahead of him on the diplomatic front. Tensions are rising over Japan's export restrictions on high-tech materials to South Korea. There is also the issue of Japanese abducted by North Korea, and pressure from the US over upcoming trade negotiations.

And the list goes on.

He is going to have to tackle all these vexing problems while trying to keep Japan's economy on track.