The July 10 House of Councillors election could put at least two-thirds of the upper house in the hands of lawmakers amenable to amending the Japanese Constitution, opening the door to a national referendum on the issue, according to a Kyodo News survey. The ruling bloc of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito are likely to win at least 70 of the 121 seats up for grabs in the election, comfortably exceeding Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s stated target of 61, a majority of the contested seats. The nationwide telephone poll conducted Wednesday and Thursday—in which a total of 34,240 households nationwide were surveyed and 27,597 eligible voters responded—suggests that with the addition of Initiatives from Osaka and independents thought likely to support reform, Abe could amass sufficient support for his long-standing goal of amending the war-renouncing Constitution.
Based on the survey, the LDP could win close to 60 seats on its own. By combining at least 57 of the contested seats with the noncontested seats it already holds, the party could achieve a simple majority in the upper house for the first time in 27 years. But with more than half of the survey’s respondents still undecided with two weeks of campaigning left to go, the election outcome is far from certain.
An attempt to kick-start a constitutional amendment would need the approval of at least 162 of the upper house’s 242 lawmakers.
The LDP, Komeito, Initiatives from Osaka and Party for the Japanese Kokoro together hold 84 seats in the half of the house that will not be contested in this election, so they would need to win 78 of the contested seats to reach the two-thirds mark. As a further buffer, at least four independents in noncontested seats are thought likely to support reform.