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With election win in hand, Abe pledges to speed up economic measures

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will "speed up" his government's "Abenomics" economic policy mix after emerging victorious in the July 10 House of Councillors election, he stated during a TBS television program late on election day.

"I think (our election victory) suggests we should steadily increase the pace (of Abenomics). I want to move forward responding to the Japanese people's expectations," Abe said. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)-Komeito coalition secured a majority of seats contested in the July 10 upper house poll.

The prime minister had insisted during the election campaign that Abenomics "hasn't failed, but it is only half way through," and stated repeatedly that he and his government would "push forward along this path with tremendous strength." Abe furthermore indicated that he would like to continue his two core economic policies of extreme monetary easing and fiscal stimulus measures to try and jumpstart Japan's economy.

Regarding the fiscal 2016 supplementary budget draft to be submitted to this autumn's extraordinary Diet session, Abe said during a program on public broadcaster NHK, "By taking seriously the Japanese people's demand that we move forward with our economic policies, I would like to formulate comprehensive and bold economic policies." The comment hinted strongly that the Abe government is planning extensive economic measures for the supplementary budget in order to combat financial turmoil stemming from Britain's June 23 referendum vote to leave the European Union.

Justice Minister Mitsuhide Iwaki and Aiko Shimajiri, state minister for Okinawa and the Northern Territories, both lost their seats, meaning attention will be cast on Cabinet shakeup and changes to the LDP's executive ranks. The prime minister told a TV Asahi program, "The terms of the upper house members expire at the end of July. I'd like to make decisions while taking a good look at economic policies and conditions," suggesting there would be no Cabinet reshuffle until August or beyond, and that Iwaki and Shimajiri would continue in their portfolios for the time being.

"I'd like to consult with the ruling parties to put together a new and powerful order of battle," Abe said.

The prime minster stated during an NHK program that "at this point, we are not even thinking about" when the House of Representatives might be dissolved for a general election. "We will accept the will of the Japanese people as expressed in the (July 10) election, and move forward with a powerful economic policy," he said.

On the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, Abe said, "No one wants Futenma to end up as a permanent fixture where it is, and I want to move forward with relocating it soon. I want to proceed based on the settlement conditions agreed upon by the (central) government and Okinawa Prefecture."

Regarding constitutional amendment, Abe told a TBS program that the upper house election "was not about the pros and cons of the Constitution. We will undertake discussion of that issue in the Diet," indicating that he would keep a close eye on the deliberations of the lower and upper house committees on the Constitution.

Meanwhile, both the ruling and opposition parties called for the implementation of a true scholarship system that, unlike the current bursary-like student financial support scheme, would not require recipients to pay back the funds. Abe told a Nippon TV program, "I want to put that into effect during the drafting of next fiscal year's budget. I want to get right into considering the specifics."

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