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Japan’s Abe to stay despite poll defeat

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's conservative ruling camp suffered a devastating defeat in upper house elections on Sunday.

world Updated: Jul 31, 2007 03:12 IST

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's conservative ruling camp suffered a devastating defeat in upper house elections on Sunday, but the 52-year-old conservative said he intended to stay in his post despite the drubbing.

"I am determined to carry out my promises although the situation is severe," Abe said, after acknowledging that he was responsible for the huge loss.

"We need to restore the people's trust in the country and the government," a weary and drawn-looking Abe told reporters.

Voters angry after a string of government scandals and gaffes and the bungling of pension records stripped Abe's coalition of its upper house majority, Japanese media reported, in his first big electoral test since taking office 10 months ago.

Abe's coalition will not be ousted from government by a loss in the upper house, since it has a huge majority in the more powerful lower chamber, which elects the premier.

But, with the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan on track to become the biggest party in the chamber, laws will be hard to enact, threatening policy deadlock.

"We need to discuss issues closely with the Democratic Party in the upper house and listen to them when necessary," said Abe, after placing a few red rosettes marking the LDP's scarce victories on a results board at his party's headquarters.

Public broadcaster NHK said its exit polls showed that the LDP and its partner, New Komeito, would win between 39 and 55 seats -- far short of the 64 needed to keep their majority in the upper house, where half of the 242 seats were up for grabs.