Constitution reform likely in sight after upper house race: Kyodo poll


Amending Japan’s Constitution is within reach, as many lawmakers in favor of such reform are likely to win in the July 10 House of Councillors election that would pave the way to secure the required two-thirds majority in the upper house, a Kyodo News survey indicated Tuesday.

Based on the nationwide, three-day telephone survey conducted from Sunday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and coalition partner Komeito are likely to win at least 74 of the 121 seats up for grabs in the election, surpassing Abe’s stated target of 61, a majority of the contested seats.

With the addition of Initiatives of Osaka and independents thought likely to support constitutional revision, being pushed by Abe, chances are strong that the combined number of contested and noncontested seats of the pro-constitutional amendment camp in the upper house would now account for at least two-thirds after the election.

On its own, the LDP could win at least 60 seats. By combining at least 57 of the contested seats with the noncontested seats it already holds, the LDP is gearing up to achieve a simple majority in the upper house for the first time in 27 years, according to the survey.

But the election outcome is far from certain as more than 40 percent of respondents said they are undecided on either their constituency or proportional representation votes.

To begin the process of constitutional revision, at least 162 of the upper house’s 242 lawmakers must approve before putting the issue to a national referendum.

The survey said Komeito is likely to gain ground by securing 14 seats, while the Initiatives from Osaka is likely to win six seats.

The four pro-constitutional change parties — LDP, Komeito, Initiatives from Osaka, and the Party for the Japanese Kokoro — together hold 84 noncontested seats. If the four parties win 78 of the contested seats, they will reach the two-thirds majority.

About 43,000 eligible voters responded to the poll. Two ballots will be cast each for constituencies that will account for 73 of the 121 contested seats, and for 48 seats through the proportional representation system.

As for those against amending the Constitution, the main opposition Democratic Party appears weak and is likely to win between 25 and 30 seats, below its 43 contested seats. The Social Democratic Party is likely to win just one of the contested seats, down from the two it currently has.

The People’s Life Party and Party for the Japanese Kokoro continue to face an uphill battle.

The Japanese Communist Party, meanwhile, is likely to gain ground by securing 9 seats, up from three of the contested seats it already holds.

The opposition camp is not faring well in the 32 single-seat constituencies, pitting an LDP candidate with a rival backed by four opposition parties, namely the Democratic Party, JCP, SDP and People’s Life Party.

The LDP has the lead in around 20 of the constituencies as well as in constituencies where three to six seats are up for grabs.

In the proportional representation system, the LDP could secure at least 20 seats and the Democratic Party at least 10 seats.

For the constitutional amendment, a two-thirds majority is also needed for the 475-seat House of Representatives, and the LDP and Komeito already hold such a majority there.


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