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The July 21 Upper House election will be yet another test by voters of the achievements and policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration. Abe, now the second-longest-serving prime minister in Japan’s modern history, stresses the importance of political stability as he calls on voters to support his ruling coalition. But he also calls the upcoming race an occasion to ask voters if they support his bid to amend the Constitution, which he wants changed while he’s still in office.

Half of the Upper House seats come up for grabs every six years. The half this time around were elected in 2013, when Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party scored a particularly strong win, gaining 65 of the 121 contested seats. Since it is considered extremely difficult for the LDP to replicate its 2013 performance, the focus is on how far the LDP can contain its losses from its pre-election strength, and the party has set a target of its coalition with Komeito together winning 63 seats, a majority of the 124 contested. However, the real focus will be on whether the ruling coalition and its allies will maintain the two-thirds majority of the chamber (including seats not contested) needed to initiate a constitutional amendment.

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