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LDP to regain single-party majority in upper house

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is set to regain a single-party majority in the House of Councillors as an independent legislator has applied to join the party, sources close to the LDP said.

After the legislator, Tatsuo Hirano, joins the LDP, the governing party will increase its strength in the 242-seat upper chamber to 122. This will be the first time in 27 years that the LDP has regained a single-party majority in the upper house.

"Society is undergoing changes such as the declining population. I'd like to help implement policy measures to counter such changes as a member of the LDP," Hirano told reporters.

Hirano, former state minister in charge of reconstruction of areas devastated by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, met with LDP Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki at party headquarters on July 12.

After Tanigaki asked Hirano if he can work with the LDP, the independent legislator filed an application to join the party later in the day. The LDP is set to officially approve Hirano's membership as early as late July after going through a procedure at the party's chapter in Iwate Prefecture, the area the legislator represents.

Hirano is serving his third six-year term as an upper house member. His seat was not contested in the July 10 election and he supported an LDP candidate who unsuccessfully ran in the Iwate prefectural constituency.

Hirano served as reconstruction minister in the government led by the Democratic Party of Japan in 2012.

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