Abe has been a staunch US ally but the election results were more likely due to economic factors and recent corruption scandals in Japan's ruling party. Maybe the Japanese people finally had enough of politics as usual.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday vowed to stay in office, despite a humiliating election that saw his Liberal Democratic Party suffer its worst defeat in a half-century and could have implications for relations with the U.S.
In a vote for half of the seats in the upper house of parliament, the electorate voiced its outrage over a series of political scandals and the loss of millions of pension records - a serious blunder in this rapidly-ageing country - stripping the LDP of its majority in the 242-seat body.
"To pursue reforms, to build a new country, I have to fulfill my duties as prime minister from now on," Abe said, acknowledging, nonetheless, that a Cabinet reshuffle was in order.
But the vote is a sign the electorate is angry. It was a terrible defeat for the prime minister a mere 10 months after he took office, succeeding the charismatic and popular Junichiro Koizumi.
The LDP remains in control of the lower house and thus still controls the government, but Sunday's defeat was a clear sign of Abe's tumbling fortunes and a dramatic reversal of the stellar support he enjoyed when he took office less than a year ago.
Phil Deans, a professor of Politics and East Asian Studies at Temple University in Tokyo, said Abe's mission to make Japan more assertive on the world stage is out of touch with the electorate.
"His nationalist agenda just doesn't have that much appeal. Most Japanese people don't care that much about revising the constitution and changing Japan's international role," Deans said.
The Democratic Party of Japan, or DPJ, now the largest party in the upper house for the first time in half a century, celebrated its victory. Democratic politician Yukio Hatoyama spelled out the vote's significance.
The DPJ now controls the legislative agenda and can block government bills, ushering in a period of political gridlock. According to Koichi Nakano, an associate professor of political science from Sophia University, the opposition control of the upper house could cause more friction over Japan's alliance with the U.S., which had been especially close under Abe and Koizumi.
How did Kanako Otsuji, Japan's first openly lesbian candidate for the upper house, fare in the election?
TOKYO (Reuters) - The first openly gay candidate in Japanese national politics failed to win a seat in upper house elections on Monday, but vowed to continue her fight for minority rights.Ms. Otsuji is still young enough to try again. Try, try again as the saying goes.
Kanako Otsuji, 32, backed by the main opposition Democratic Party, had campaigned in front of rainbow-coloured flags, with loudspeakers declaring to passers-by she was a lesbian.
Also discussing the election results in Japan- Captain's Quarters, Poliblog,
Linked to- Bullwinkle, Leaning Straight Up, Morewhat, Pirate's Cove,