Japan ruling party wins elections, retaking upper house
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won an overwhelming victory in elections for the upper house of parliament, recapturing control of the chamber, final returns showed on Monday, dpa reported.
The conservative LDP won 65 seats and its ally, the New Komeito, captured 11 seats in Sunday's voting. The ruling coalition had needed 63 for a majority.
"I must respond to people's hopes that I will bring about (an economic recovery) that they can actually feel," the premier said Sunday night.
Abe, who took office in December, promoted aggressive monetary easing to prop up the economy and appealed to voters to support his economic policies as he vowed to pull the country out of 15 years of deflation.
On Sunday, the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan grabbed only 17 seats, its worst showing in an upper house election since its foundation in 1996, while the Japanese Communist Party made significant leaps, winning 8 seats, the biggest number since 1998.
"It is a crucial step forward for us to take the offensive" against the LDP, JCP leader Kazuo Shii told a news conference.
"Citizens are concerned that the LDP will go out of control," he said.
In the 2007 upper house elections, the LDP led by then-premier Abe suffered a crushing defeat, losing a majority for the first time in its history.
The upper house has elections for half of its 242 seats every three years, and this year 433 candidates competed for the 121 seats.
Voter turnout in Sunday's elections was estimated at 51.57 per cent, the lowest since the 1995 race, according to a tally by the Kyodo news agency.