Ichiro Ozawa, leader of Japan's main opposition party Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan), celebrated victory over Shinzo Abe and the LDP in the Upper House elections held yesterday.
The ruling LDP won only 37 seats out of the 121 being contested as opposed to the opposition DJP's 60 seats. This was a huge loss for Abe and his party and meant the opposition DJP assumed control of the Upper House for the first time ever.
Abe took responsibility for the defeat but has refused to step down as Prime Minister, determined to push through his conservative agenda of changing the constitution and encouraging patriotism in schools.
Opposition control of the second chamber House of Councillors will make the government's attempts to legislate extremely difficult, however, and could lead to political gridlock, despite the fact that the LDP has a huge majority in the more important Lower House or House of Representatives, courtesy of ex-premier Junichiro Koizumi's landslide win in the 2005 general election.
Voter turnout was low, with less than 50% of eligible voters going to the polls.
Abe is expected to reshuffle his cabinet next month in an effort to increase sagging public confidence in his party and his premiership.
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Monday, July 30, 2007