Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday set the win-or-lose bar for the ruling coalition in this summer’s House of Councilors election at the majority of seats in the Upper House.
The prime minister spoke of the line dividing victory from defeat for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, Komeito, when he appeared in an internet program and on a television program the same day.
“The focal point of the election will be on political stability,” Abe, also president of the LDP, said, vowing that he will put all his effort into securing the number of seats that will enable stable political administration.
While he did not clarify what he meant by the term majority, his target was apparently based on the total 245 seats in the post-election Upper House, including those that will not be contested in the upcoming election.
The bar is not high, as the LDP can lose about 25 seats from the total number of seats currently held by the party, and the ruling coalition will still be able to reach the target if Komeito manages to maintain all of its current seats.
Abe noted that constitutional amendment will also be an important issue in the election.
Criticizing the opposition parties for refusing to become involved in discussions about revising the Constitution in the Diet, Abe said he wants the people to decide whether they will choose parties that fail to deliberate or parties that hold discussions.
He added that he wants to proceed with further discussions on the topic after the election.
On whether he will call for a snap election for the House of Representatives on the same day as the Upper House election, he pointed out the need for a level-headed judgment.
A snap election “is not even in the back of my mind,” he added, dismissing the idea once again.
Abe said that many younger Lower House LDP lawmakers have requested he call a double election.
However, he indicated that he considers creating a political vacuum undesirable, with the Group of 20 summit, which will be held in the city of Osaka from Friday, drawing nearer.
The prime minister also commented on a new Japan-U.S. trade deal currently under negotiation.
On the handling of agricultural and livestock products, Abe clearly noted that there is no room for compromise exceeding the levels that Tokyo agreed to in the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral free trade agreement.
The United States withdrew from the TPP framework after President Donald Trump took office in January 2017.
Abe voiced confidence that Tokyo and Washington will be able to reach an agreement within the scope of the TPP.
He said that the bilateral accord must be approved by the Diet.
“We won’t conclude (the negotiation) unless it (the agreement) serves our national interests,” he added.
Regarding Trump’s announcement that he will run for president again in the 2020 election, Abe said that he hopes that the event will be something befitting a world leader, with Trump and other candidates discussing their policies and engaging in constructive debates.