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Japan to Move Slowly on Amending Constitution After Election


Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, answers questions during a TV interview at their party headquarters in Tokyo, Sunday, July 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, answers questions during a TV interview at their party headquarters in Tokyo, Sunday, July 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is claiming victory in Sunday’s parliamentary elections.

His Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) coalition won a two-thirds majority in Japan’s upper house of parliament. The LDP won 56 of 121 seats up for election. Its coalition partner, Komeito, won 14 seats.

The upper house is known as the National Diet. Only half the seats in the 242-seat diet are up for election every three years.

The two main issues during the election campaign were the economic policies of Shinzo Abe, known as Abenomics, and calls to change Japan’s pacifist constitution.

The ruling coalition already controls the lower house of parliament. The coalition needed Sunday’s victory to capture a two-thirds majority in both houses. That ‘supermajority’ and a simple majority in a nationwide referendum are required to amend the constitution.

The prime minister said the Japanese people will decide on the question of amending the constitution if a special election is called.

Abe would like to change article 9 of the document. Article 9 stops Japan from going to war to settle international disputes involving the state.

The public is largely divided over calls to amend the constitution. Some opinion polls indicate most people disagree with talk of a more active military.

A voter selects candidates before casting a ballot in Japan's upper house parliamentary elections at a polling station in Tokyo, Sunday, July 10, 2016.

A voter selects candidates before casting a ballot in Japan's upper house parliamentary elections at a polling station in Tokyo, Sunday, July 10, 2016.

Abe’s supporters say Japan needs a stronger and less restricted military to answer possible threats from other countries in East Asia. They say countries like China and North Korea are increasing their military power and nuclear activities.

China and other areas that suffered under Japanese occupation in World War II have expressed concern about calls to change the constitution. They warn that Japan could again become an aggressive military power if the document is amended.

China’s official news agency Xinhua published a commentary on the Japanese election Monday. It expressed alarm about Abe’s power expanding and possible changes to the constitution. The commentary said Japan’s militarization will not help Japan or its neighbors.

More about economy

The prime minister announced on Monday that he plans to increase government spending in the country as a way to fuel economic growth.

Abe did not state the size of the spending program. But there are reports that it could total $100 billion.

The leading measure of Japanese stock prices rose on Monday, hours after the ruling coalition’s victory. The Nikkei 225 was up close to four percent. The Topix index of all first-section shares climbed 3.79 percent.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

Brian Padden wrote this story for VOA News. Jim Dresbach adapted his report for Learning English. Additional information came from reporter Youmi Kim in Seoul. George Grow was the editor.

What do you think about the results from the Japanese election? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or visit our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

pacifistadj. a feeling that war and violence are wrong

dietn. the legislative body of certain countries

referendumn. an event in which the people of a county or state vote for or against a law that deals with a specific issue

polln. an activity in which several or many people are asked a question or a series of questions in order to get information about what most people think about something

alarmn. worry, fear or concern

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