Shinzo Abe's LDP suffers set-back in Japanese elections

Monday, July 30, 2007

Japanese House of Councillors election, 2007
     - Liberal Democratic Party
     - New Komei Party
     - Democratic Party of Japan
     - Japanese Communist Party
     - Social Democratic Party
     - The People's New Party
     - New Party Nippon
     - Others

Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) could claim victory in Sunday's House of Councillors elections. The House of Councillors is the upper house in the bicameral National Diet of Japan. Of the 242 seats, DPJ went from 82 to 109 seats, making it the largest party in the House of Councillors.

This gain came largely at the expense of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which went from 119 seats to 83. Also losing seats was LDP's coalition partner, New Komeito Party (NKP), which lost 4 councillor seats and now holds 20.

Shinzo Abe on November 18, 2006

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that while he takes the result of the election "very seriously," he does not intend to resign his post.

"We must take these results very seriously and reflecting on what we must reflect on," Abe said at a news conference. "I want to fulfill my responsibility to proceed with reform to build the nation and promote economic growth that the people can feel."

The election result will not force the government out of power, since the LDP holds 296 of the 480 seats in the House of Representatives. Nonetheless, Abe said that he would reshuffle the cabinet. "Voters said we must reflect on our shortcomings and refresh the line-up," Abe said. "I plan to reshuffle the Cabinet and top party posts at an appropriate time."

"The election expressed the frustrations of the people. He really needs to accept the results of the election and think about the future. This might include quitting," 38-year-old civil servant Akihiro Kodaira told Reuters.