Japan's ruling party loses key election as public's faith wanes

16:53, July 12, 2010      

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Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who is also head of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), attends a press conference at the party election campaign headquarters in Tokyo on July 11, 2010. Japan's ruling coalition, headed by DPJ, is certain to lose the majority of seats in the upper house in Sunday's election. The opposition camp, led by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), secured more than half of the 121 seats up for grabs. (Xinhua/Ji Chunpeng)

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) on Monday suffered a crushing loss in the upper house election held on Sunday, its first national election since last year's change of government.

Quite apart from failing to reach their pre-election target of 54 upper house seats, the beleaguered DPJ actually won fewer seats than their closest rivals the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), in a defeat that few could have foreseen just a matter of weeks ago.

Having no majority and no obvious path to a coalition, the result leaves the DPJ in a thorny position, with their ability to oversee the nation's fiscal reform, clearly hindered.

Assessing the underlying reasons for the reverse, Prime Minister Naoto Kan admitted that his comments about consumption tax in the build up to the election had been "careless," and the nation' leader now faces major issues of legislative deadlock when it comes to trying to pass new bills.

Despite the prime minister frankly admitting his shortcomings on Monday, he insisted that rather than stepping down, he would work even harder to secure cooperation from other parties and try to avoid a possible political stalemate.

Japan's upper house elections are usually a good indication of a leader's ability to build a stable government and it is not unknown for an embarrassing defeat to bring about a change in leadership. As recently as the last House of Councilors election in 2007, Shinzo Abe quit his post as the head of government after a crushing loss.

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