Japan's Pacifist Constitution Up for Debate After Abe Coalition's Landslide Win

The projections, provided by public broadcaster, NHK, and other media and based on partial results surfacing after polls closed at 8:00 pm (1100 GMT), would give Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition the ability to start amending Japan's constitution.

TOKYO (AP) - Japan's ruling coalition was a clear victor in Sunday's parliamentary elections, preliminary results and Japanese media exit polls indicated, paving the way for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to push ahead with his economic revival policies, but also possibly changing the nation's postwar pacifist constitution.

Many voters felt they had no other option, given memories of the main opposition Democratic Party's rocky 2009-2012 rule.

What he might tackle instead is a proposal from pro-revision lawmakers to create an article that gives the prime minister state-of-emergency-like powers in the event of a major contingency such as a big quake.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday the government will speed up construction of bullet trains and push forward by up to eight years the completion of maglev train networks as part of a stimulus package to support the economy.

On Sunday, however, the LDP was clearly taking the election result as a vote of confidence.

During Monday's press conference at the party headquarters in Tokyo, Abe described the election victory as "a sign of strong trust in our economic policy by the public".

Mr Abe said on Sunday evening that it was "too early" to talk about specific revisions to the constitution.

Abe told a parliamentary session in March that he was hoping to achieve a revision during his term, which expires in September 2018, but he hasn't said specifically what change he would seek.

The opposition Democratic Party linked up with three smaller parties, including the Japanese Communist Party, to try to stop the pro-constitutional reform camp getting a super majority.

Shinichi Nishikawa, professor of political science at Meiji University in Tokyo, said the results were a clear win for Abe. "Our party alone does not hold two-thirds of the upper house". "I don't think there's any chance he will move to change Article 9 straight away". Exit polls showed the Liberal Democrats benefiting most from the youth vote.

The constitution has never been revised in the 70 years since it was written in 1946, while Japan was under occupation by the victorious allied powers of the second World War.

However, it remains unclear as to whether it would support a revision of Article 9, as Ishin leaders apparently intend to use its position on the Article 9 issue as a bargaining chip to win the LDP's support for its own proposals for local government reforms.

Abe had played down his constitutional ambitions during the campaign, preferring to stress his management of the economy.

The constitution was adopted in 1946, the first year of the US post-war occupation, and has not changed since.

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