Japan's ruling coalition set for election gains

STORY: At the headquarters of Japan's ruling party, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is putting paper roses next to the names of candidates expected to have won seats in the upper house of parliament.

And it looks like the Liberal Democratic Party leader will need a lot of rosettes.

His coalition government is projected to have increased its majority in an election on Sunday (July 10), two days after the assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe.

Japan's longest serving modern leader, who was a senior LDP lawmaker, was gunned down on Friday (July 8) during a campaign speech in the western city Nara.

At the LDP's offices, Kishida held a moment of silence.

The LDP and its junior coalition partner Komeito held 69 of the 125 contested seats going into the vote.

An exit poll by public broadcaster NHK predicted they would win between 69 and 83 seats.

The LDP was projected to win as many as 69 seats on its own, according to the exit poll, which would give it a majority even without Komeito.

Elections for parliament's less powerful upper house are typically a referendum on the sitting government.

A change of government was not at stake as that is determined by the lower house.

However, the strong showing could help Kishida consolidate his rule.

It's a chance, analysts say, for him to achieve his goal of boosting military spending at a time of tension with neighbors China, Russia and North Korea.

The gains might also allow Kishida to revise Japan's pacifist constitution, a dream Abe never achieved.

Election results are expected on Monday (July 11).

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