Japan’s ruling party wins election after Abe assassination

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Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party of the late former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, cruised to victory following a parliamentary vote on Sunday. The ruling LDP secured 63 seats, more than half the 125 seats up for grabs in the upper house, according to local media reports.

The ruling conservative bloc, which also includes LDP’s coalition partner Komeito, will now have 75 seats in the assembly.

“It’s significant we were able to pull this election together at a time violence was shaking the foundations of the election,” said Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, an Abe protege.

The LDP was expected to receive a surge of support after Abe’s assassination.

“We just lost Mr. Abe. I would like the LDP to win many votes so that they can run the country in a stable manner,” 67-year-old pensioner Sakae Fujishiro told the Reuters news agency as he cast his vote for the ruling party in Tokyo’s eastern Edogawa ward.

Just last week, opinion polls showed the LDP winning under half the seats available.

But the latest polls predicted that the Sunday’s vote would solidify Kishida’s hold on power, putting him in a better position for a “golden three years” in which he will face no further elections.

Still, the conservative prime minister would need to faces rising prices and energy shortages after an early summer heat wave led to a power crunch.

Police acknowledge security loopholes around Abe’s killing

Japanese authorities have acknowledged “problems with guarding and safety measures” during the campaign event when Abe was gunned down. The police promised a comprehensive investigation.

 People pray at a makeshift memorial at the scene where the former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot while delivering his speech to support the Liberal Democratic Party's candidate during an election campaign in Nara, Friday, July 8, 2022

Nara’s police have acknowledged secuirty could have been more strict at the campaign event during which Abe was killed

“In all the years since I became a police officer in 1995… there is no greater remorse, no bigger regret than this,” the Nara Regional Police Head Tomoaki Onizuka said in a press briefing late on Saturday.

Nara police announced the seizure of belongings of the murder suspect; a motorcycle and a vehicle. The 41-year-old said he used the wooden boards retrieved from the vehicle for test-firing the homemade weapon used in attacking Abe.

He said the attack took months of planning. The apparent shooter also said it was a response to Abe’s alleged links to a religious group which the unemployed suspect blames for his mother’s financial woes.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has scheduled a stop in Tokyo on Monday to offer his country’s condolences over the death of Abe in person. Blinken is in Asia already for meetings.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is also currently in Japan. She visited the Nagasaki nuclear bombing memorial on Sunday and will be in Tokyo on Monday. 

ar, rmt/dj (AFP, Reuters)

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