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    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stands beside the Japanese characters of kanji which make up Reiwa, the new imperial era

    Abe's Coalition Fails to Gain Majority Needed to Amend Constitution in Upper House Vote

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    TOKYO (Sputnik) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and the Komeito party won Sunday's elections to the country’s upper house, the House of Councilors, but failed to secure two thirds of the seats needed to change the country's constitution, according to the official results of the elections.

    Abe's coalition has secured 141 seats, which is six seats less than it had before the elections. The opposition and other parties, which had 90 seats before the vote, gained 104 seats, reinforcing their position in the upper house.

    This year, 50 members of the upper house were elected from party lists, and 74 others — based on a majority system.  In accordance with the electoral reform carried out in 2018, the number of upper house seats will increase from 242 to 248 over the next two elections: there will be 245 seats after the 2019 elections, and 248 seats after elections in 2022.

    The ruling coalition needs two thirds of the upper house's seats to approve amendments to the country's constitution without any obstacles. The amendments can be introduced only after being approved by two thirds of the lawmakers of the Japanese parliament's lower house, where those supporting the changes already have the needed number of seats.

    The support of the majority of the country's citizens is also needed for the constitution's reform. Therefore, a national referendum should be organized to approve the constitutional amendments.

    Abe's government has been seeking to change the country's main law so that the Japanese Self-Defense Forces are mentioned in it and no one could call their existence "anti-constitutional." At the same time, neighboring countries, primarily North and South Korea, have repeatedly expressed fears that Tokyo is trying to revive Japanese militarism that made the Korean people suffer a lot during World War II.

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