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Pro-constitutional revision parties close to securing 2/3 upper house majority: poll

(Mainichi)

Four political parties in favor of revising the postwar Constitution, including the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), are close to securing two-thirds of all House of Councillors seats in the July 10 election, a Mainichi Shimbun survey has suggested.

The LDP, its coalition partner Komeito and two other parties in favor of constitutional amendment -- Initiatives from Osaka and the Party for Japanese Kokoro (PJK) -- could win a combined 78 seats, increasing their strength to 162 seats, or two-thirds of the 242 seats in the chamber, including their 84 uncontested seats. Constitutional revisions can be proposed by the Diet through a concurring vote of two-thirds of all lawmakers in each chamber.

Since the ruling coalition already has a two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives, groundwork may be laid in the Diet for initiating constitutional revisions.

The analysis of the opening stages of the upper house campaign is based on a Mainichi survey conducted on June 22-23 covering 27,500 randomly selected respondents across the country, excluding areas seriously affected by the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

However, the situation could change before voting day, as nearly 40 percent of the respondents replied that they have not yet decided how they will vote in constituencies, or declined to answer.

An upper house election is held every three years and half of its 242 seats are contested each time. A total of 389 candidates are vying for the 121 contested seats -- 73 constituency seats and 48 in the proportional representation bloc.

The outcome of the overall election hinges largely on the results in 32 constituencies in which only one seat is up for grabs. Four opposition parties -- the Democratic Party (DP), the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the People's Life Party (PLP) -- fielded a joint candidate in each of these electoral districts.

Nevertheless, LDP candidates are leading in 26 of these constituencies. In three other electoral districts, candidates fielded jointly by the four opposition parties are fiercely competing with LDP candidates. Those fielded by the four opposition parties are leading in only the remaining three constituencies -- Miyagi, Yamagata and Okinawa. The LDP is also performing very well in constituencies where multiple seats are being contested. The LDP may win two seats each in the Tokyo and Chiba electoral districts.

The LDP is expected to win at least 58 seats overall, which together with its 65 uncontested seats will give the party its first stand-alone majority in 27 years.

The survey suggests that Komeito will win all of its constituency battles and pick up seats in the proportional representation bloc. The junior coalition partner fielded a record seven candidates in constituencies where multiple seats are up for grabs and there is a chance that all of them will be elected.

As such, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is certain to achieve his minimum goal of the ruling coalition winning a majority of seats up for grabs in the July 10 poll.

In contrast, the DP is fighting an uphill battle. The survey suggests that the DP could even lose half of its seats to be contested in the race. There is a growing possibility that the DP will secure two seats in the Hokkaido multiple-seat constituency. However, the DP has no prospect of winning a second seat in electoral districts where the main opposition party fielded multiple candidates.

The JCP will likely win far more seats than its three contested seats mainly through the proportional representation system. There is also a growing possibility that the JCP will win a seat in the Tokyo constituency and may garner one each in the Kanagawa and Osaka electoral districts.

The SDP will likely manage to secure just one seat in the proportional representation bloc, while the PLP, PJK and the New Renaissance Party have no prospect of winning even a single seat in the election.

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