The Latest: Abe falls short of seats to change constitution

TOKYO (AP) — The Latest on Japanese upper house elections (all times local):

12:55 a.m. Monday

Japanese media say Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling bloc will not reach the two-thirds majority in the upper house needed to propose a constitutional revision even if joined by supporters from another party and independents.

Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner Komeito have so far won 69 seats, securing the majority of the 124 seats up for grabs in Sunday’s upper house election. The less powerful of Japan’s parliamentary chambers does not choose the prime minister.

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Abe had hoped to win enough seats to increase his chances of a revision to Japan’s pacifist constitution to allow Japanese forces a greater role in international disputes. Constitutional reform has already been a challenge because voters are more concerned about jobs, economy and social security.

He now has slimmer chances of achieving his long-cherished goal before his term ends in 2021.

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10:55 p.m. Sunday

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has welcomed results showing his coalition bloc has secured a majority in upper house elections, saying it reflects a public mandate for his policies.

Abe said, “I believe the people chose political stability, urging us to pursue our policies and carry out diplomacy to protect Japan’s national interests.”

Abe was at his party’s election headquarters following Sunday’s election, placing red ribbons on winners’ names written on a panel.

He hopes to gain enough seats to boost chances for revising the pacifist constitution, his long-cherished goal before his term ends in 2021, though it’s a challenge because voters are mainly interested in jobs and economy. Abe said he is not considering running for another term.

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10:15 p.m.

Media reports say Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition has secured a majority in upper house elections.

Public broadcaster NHK says Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner Komeito won 64 seats in Sunday’s election, exceeding the majority.

NHK says Abe’s bloc could also reach the two-thirds super-majority needed to propose constitutional revisions.

Abe hopes to gain enough seats to boost chances for revising the constitution, his long-cherished goal before his term ends in 2021.

Sunday’s election was for the less powerful of Japan’s two parliamentary chambers. The upper house does not choose the prime minister.

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8:25 p.m.

Exit polls show Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition is certain to secure the majority of 124 seats contested in upper house elections.

Japanese media released result projections shortly after polls closed at 8 p.m. Sunday.

Public broadcaster NHK says Abe’s ruling bloc is sure to win 63 seats, and may reach the two-thirds super majority needed to propose a constitutional revision.

Abe hopes to gain enough seats to boost chances for revising the constitution, his long-cherished goal before his term ends in 2021.

Sunday’s election was for the less powerful of Japan’s two parliamentary chambers. The upper house does not choose the prime minister.

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10:30 a.m.

Japanese are voting in an election for the upper house of parliament, where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling bloc is expected to keep the majority.

Up for grabs Sunday are 124 seats in the less powerful of Japan’s two chambers that doesn’t choose the prime minister.

Media polls have indicated Abe’s ruling bloc is expected to keep the majority as most voters consider it as a safer choice over an opposition with uncertain track records.

Opposition parties have focused on concerns over household finances, such as the impact from an upcoming sales tax increase and strains on the public pension system amid an aging population.

Abe hopes to gain enough seats to boost chances for a constitutional revision, his long-cherished goal before his term ends in 2021.

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