Japanese broadcasters projected that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition won a majority of seats in the upper house of parliament in elections today, giving it control of both chambers for the first time in six years. The win is seen as an endorsement of Abe's economic program, which has helped spark a tentative recovery, and gives him a legislative mandate to pursue difficult economic reforms that he has promised to help sustain growth in the long run.
The victory in the elections, where half the seats in the 242-member upper house were up for grabs, offers hawkish Abe more leeway to advance nationalistic goals that could further strain testy relations with China and South Korea. It is a vindication for Abe, who lost upper house elections in 2007 during his previous stint as prime minister. Based on exit polls, public broadcaster NHK predicted that Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, New Komeito, won a combined 71 seats, giving them a total of 130 seats in the chamber, more than the 122 needed for a majority. "Obviously, the results so far shows that voters want a stable government," said LDP vice president Masahiko Komura said. "We will continue to push Abenomics steadily in order to live up to their expectations."