Japan’s ruling center-right party scored a supermajority in the House of Councillors election on July 10, claiming more than half of the 125 contested seats, in the wake of the assassination of former prime minister and party leader Shinzo Abe.
Abe’s factious Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won 119 of the 248 seats in the upper chamber of parliament, while its coalition partner Komeito secured 27 seats, broadcaster NHK reported.
This has secured for the party the two-thirds majority required to amendment Japan’s pacifist post-war Constitution. As part of Abe’s Japan-first policies, he was looking to revise Article 9, forbidding Japan from possessing its own military or forces with “war potential.”
If unchallenged by other factions within the party, the victory will allow Kishida to preside until the next election in 2025. Kishida, a moderate from Hiroshima who wants nuclear weapons banned, represents the smaller, more left-leaning liberal wing of the LDP, while Abe lead the right-leaning nationalist wing.
Kishida is more dovish on foreign policy than Abe, who was considered hawkish on China for his revitalising of the Quad forum and nationalizing of the uninhabited Senkaku islands that China contests as part of its territory—the Diaoyu islands.
The LDP held a moment of silence for Abe at its Tokyo headquarters. Kishida carried a solemn expression as he placed victory ribbons next to the names of winning candidates on the whiteboard, The Japan Times reported.
“Violence threatened the electoral process, the very foundation of our democracy. I was determined to go through with this election at all costs,” he said, referring to the shooting of Abe that occurred two days before the poll.
Speaking at a press conference, Kishida said that his administration will focus on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war, and the soaring cost of living. He also pledged to revive the Japanese economy.
“I am determined to achieve results as part of my ‘new capitalism’ economic model, which is aimed primarily at revitalizing the economy,” he said.