Politicians preparing for the Upper House election Politicians preparing for the Upper House election
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Politicians preparing for the Upper House election

    NHK World
    Correspondent
    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet has set the date for this summer's Upper House election. People will cast their ballots on July 21. The Prime Minister says he wants to deliver to voters "political stability". Opposition leaders see it as a chance to strip him of a supermajority: a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Diet that gives the ruling party and pro-amendment forces the power to initiate a process to amend the Constitution.

    What PM said

    Abe gave a speech after closing the Diet session on Wednesday, saying he aims to promote local economies and reform the country's social security systems. He also expressed frustration at the lack of progress on his plan to amend the Constitution, saying he wants to ask the public whether it is appropriate for lawmakers to refuse even to debate it.

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    Upper House election in Japan

    ・Members of the Upper House serve terms of six years.
    ・Half the seats come up for election every three years.
    ・There are 242 seats in the upper house, rising to 245 this summer, and 248 three years from now.
    ・Candidates this summer will vie for 124 seats, 50 of which will be assigned via proportional representation.

    Taking on the LDP

    The opposition parties are determined to diminish the Liberal Democratic Party's power in the Diet. Five opposition blocs say they will unite to field single candidates in single-seat districts.

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    The election in numbers

    “53”
    Number of seats the LDP and coalition partner Komeito need to win to keep their majority.

    “67”
    Number of seats the LDP needs for a majority in the upper chamber without Komeito.

    “86”
    Number of seats Abe needs to win to keep a two-thirds majority in the house, which is the threshold for starting the constitutional amendment process.

    NHK opinion poll

    The latest NHK poll suggests support for Abe's Cabinet may be slipping. The 42 percent approval rating was down 6 points from two weeks earlier. The disapproval rating rose 2 points to 34 percent.

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    The poll found that social security was the most pressing issue for more than a third of respondents. That has been the theme of most recent national elections, resulting from fears about Japan's ageing society and shrinking population. The economy was the issue for 21 percent of respondents.
    And one in five people said the consumption tax issue was top of their minds. The ruling bloc plans to raise the rate in October, but opponents warn it could dent household consumption and hurt the economy.

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    Equality at the ballot box

    The election will be the first national vote since a new law promoting female candidacies took effect. The law asks parties to make every effort to field an equal number of male and female candidates. It carries no penalties, but has ensured there is a sharper focus on equality. As of June 26th, 98 women had declared they were going to run. That's 29 percent of all candidates.

    Official campaigning for the upper house election begins July 4th.