22 Jul 2013

Victory for Japanese PM in upper house polls

5:16 am on 22 July 2013

Exit polls in Japan predict a convincing victory for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's governing coalition in elections to the upper house of parliament - meaning he would command a majority in both houses.

NHK projected the Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner New Komeito were set to get at least 71 of the 121 seats being contested.

This would give Mr Abe control of both houses of parliament for the first time in six years.

Mr Abe said the expected result was an endorsement of his economic reforms, as he seeks to end long-term stagnation.

The deadlock in parliament has been seen as a key factor in Japan's recent "revolving door" of prime ministers.

Official results are not expected until Monday.

But the exit poll suggested Mr Abe's coalition would control 130 seats in the 242-seat upper house. Half the seats were being contested in Sunday's election.

A BBC correspondent in Tokyo said the result is seen as a vote of confidence in Mr Abe, says the BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes.

Howevrr, voter turnout was reportedly lower than in the last upper house election, in 2010.