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WATCH: Japan's ruling party secures strong win after Abe assassination

Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) policy chief Fumio Kishida and Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai (L) speak after Japan's lower house election at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) policy chief Fumio Kishida and Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai (L) speak after Japan's lower house election at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Published Jul 11, 2022

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Japan's ruling party and partners won enough votes to form a supermajority in an upper house election held just days after the assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe, local media said Monday.

The ex-premier's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partner Komeito strengthened their hold by winning more than 75 of the 125 upper house seats up for grabs, according to national news outlets.

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The parties are part of what is now a two-thirds supermajority willing to amend the country's pacifist constitution, thereby strengthening its military role on the global stage — a longtime Abe goal.

Even before the former prime minister's murder, the LDP and Komeito were expected to cement their majority, though the final number of seats will be scrutinised for signs of whether the attack bolstered support for them.

“I think it is significant we were able to complete the elections,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told NHK, adding he wants to tackle the pandemic, Ukraine-related issues and inflation.

Kishida had insisted the election proceed despite the assassination, saying “we must never allow violence to suppress speech.”

Conceding defeat, Kenta Izumi, leader of the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party, which was projected to have lost several seats, said it was clear “voters did not want to switch from the LDP and entrust us with running the government,” according to Kyodo News.

Despite the murder, turnout for the election remained low at only 52 percent, national outlets reported.

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Abe was gunned down at close range on Friday in the western region of Nara, and died of blood loss at a local hospital. His body was brought to his family home in Tokyo on Saturday.

The assassination rattled the nation and sent shockwaves around the world, prompting an outpouring of sympathy even from nations with which the hawkish Abe had sometimes difficult relations, such as China and South Korea.

The man accused of his murder, 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, is in custody and has told investigators he targeted Abe because he believed the politician was linked to an unnamed organisation.

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AFP

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