More political turmoil in Japan after Sunday's Elections (via Reuters/CNN):
Hawkish Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to stay in his post despite a crushing defeat for his ruling camp in an upper house election, but policy gridlock loomed and Abe's grip on his job was still uncertain.
Voters outraged at a string of government scandals and gaffes and government bungling of pension records stripped Abe's coalition of its upper house majority in his first big electoral test since taking office 10 months ago.
Abe's bloc will not be ousted from government by the upper house defeat, since it has a huge majority in the more powerful lower chamber, but he was expected to reshuffle his cabinet.
"I am determined to carry out my promises although the situation is severe," Abe said late on Sunday, after acknowledging that he was responsible for the huge loss. "We need to restore the people's trust in the country and the government," a weary and drawn-looking Abe told reporters.
Abe still faces pressure to quit, although a lack of suitable successors inside his party could help him survive for now. . . .
The LDP and its partner, New Komeito, won 46 seats compared to 60 for the Democrats. The coalition had needed 64 to keep their majority in the upper house, where half of the 242 seats were up for grabs. . . .
Critics said Abe was out of touch with voters more concerned with bread-and-butter issues such as pensions and health care.
Democratic Party leader Ichiro Ozawa, a pugnacious veteran who bolted from the LDP 14 years ago, had pledged to shrink income gaps, protect the weak and help farmers -- a group that had long supported the LDP.
Ozawa has vowed to make an upper house win a step towards an early general election, but media warned that his party's public image could suffer if it takes too obstructionist a stance. . . .
Ozawa -- who suffers heart problems -- failed to put in a public appearance on Sunday while others celebrated a stunning turnaround in the party's fortunes.
Party officials said Ozawa had decided to rest to recover from the fatigue of campaigning, but his absence has cast doubts over his ability to keep leading his often fractious party.
A weakened ruling bloc is expected to try to bolster its hand by wooing independents and conservatives in the Democratic Party -- a mixed bag of former LDP lawmakers, ex-socialists and young conservatives, some of whom are seen as ripe for poaching.