. hello, and welcome to "newsline." it's monday, july 22nd. japan's prime minister now holds more political cards and he's getting ready to play them. shinzo abe's ruling coalition has taken control of the upper house of the diet breaking a deadlock that made passing bills difficult. abe said he will continue pursuing a growth strategy that revitalizes the economy.
>> translator: during this election, voters overwhelmingly told us they want us to push on with our economic policies using decisive and stable politics. i want to practice politics in a firm and responsible manner. >> along with the economy, prime minister abe is also expected to focus on reviving the constitution. he noted the diet must first adopt the motion with the support of two-thirds of the lawmakers in both houses which would then have to be approved by a majority of votes in the referendum. abe said deeper and wider public discussion is needed to achieve that. candidates from abe's liberal democratic party and their
coalition partner have won 76 seats, which is enough to secure a stable majority in the upper house. that allows coalition members to chair all upper house committees and hold half of the seats on them. prime minister abe has been frustrated by a lack of control ever since he returned to power in the lower house election in december. so he and those around him have been eyeing this election for months, hoping to bring an ed to the deadlock. it's clear now they've done just that. abe's rivals of the democratic party of japan secured 17 seats, the fewest since their party's founding in 1998. dpj laerd banrikaieda conceded defeat. >> translator: the harsh outcome is a result of public dissatisfaction from when the dpj was in power for 39 months.
the dpj has not regained the public's trust because voters were disappointed with the party's performance after it won in a landslide in the 2009 lower house election. >> now let's take a look at the final seat count. the upper house has 242 seats, 121 of them or half, were up for grabs. the figures shown or the seats each party secured in this election. the main ruling liberal democratic party now has 65 seats and its partner 11 seats. the main opposition democratic party has won 17 seats. the restoration party has taken eight seats. your party has eight. and other parties and independents have 12 seats. each of japan's 47 prefectures represents one electoral district. in each of those districts there are one to five seats.
voting played out quite differently than it has in the past, especially when you look at the kaejcandidates in each prefecture. the seats contested in that vote were the same as those this time around. back then, the democratic party of japan pbecame the dominant force in the upper house. the dpj won 43, the ones marked in blue. abe was prime minister at the time. he shouldered the responsibility for the ldp's poor showing. he resigned two months later. this time, his fortunes and those of his parties changed. the ldp won 44 of the 47 prefectures, turning the electoral map red. the dbj, not one candidate from the party was able to win the most votes in a prefecture. nhk world's senior political commentator joins us now with
his take on this election. so, prime minister abe has a victory. he had been hoping for it. what are some of the challenges he faces? >> well, the most important job is restoring japan's economic health. nhk poll suggests more than 70% of voters favored his economic policies, the so-called abenomics. nearly half of them voted for the liberal democrats. so the expectations are high for the prime minister to end the years of deplace and revitalize japanese industry. but many people say that they haven't felt any effects of an economic recovery. critics say abe's policies have not led to higher wages. and he has to face the challenge of restoring fiscal health. and spending on social security has driven the national debt two
times gross domestic product, the highest among industrialized nations. abe plans to raise the conception tax from 5% to 10% in 2015, in an effort to solve the problem. but it won't be an easy decision. >> so what challenges might the prime minister face on the international stage? >> well, abe has overseen japan's entry into the transpacific partnership, the free trade agreement being negotiated for the asia-pacific region. he also has to manage difficult relations with china and south korea. at the same time, he wants to strengthen the security alliance with the united states. he may use the mandate he has won to push through conservative agenda, centered on amending the
congre constitution. you know, political parties that back constitutional amendments did not capture enough seats. but abe may still achieve his goal. the ldp has worked for years with the allies, though the members are cautious about amending the constitution. abe may approach some members of the opposition democratic party who may be interested in reopening the debate. all the things abe wants to accomplish carry certain risks. but the results of this election give him a mandate for his wider agenda, both at home and abroad. >> thanks very much for your insight. nhk senior political commentator there. now, prime minister abe sees this vote as his second shot at
political redemption. he led the ldp to a crushing defeat in the 2007 upper house election, then re signed. abe took power again last december, determined to do things differently, more from nhk world's nickio kishima. >> reporter: abe came roaring back to power last december after defeating the democratic party in a general election. the land slide victory marked a political comeback for abe. he resigned as prime minister in 2007 after only a year in the job because of a health issue. on day one, he labeled his new cabinet a crisis break-through cabinet. >> translator: voters came to the general election because everyone wanted to end the political turmoil once and for
all. >> reporter: abe said japan faced three crises. they described the economic situation as very serious. so he drafted a bold strategy to end decades of deflation. his policy became known as abenomics and it pushed up stock prices, it also weakened the yen which independent industries applauded. abenomics has helped keep the prime minister's approval rating around 60%. abe maintains that part of bringing japan back includes rebuilding the disaster hit regions, and despite the nuclear accident in fukushima, he's standing firm on his plan to restart reactors in order to meet energy demands. abe said as long as reactors pass safety standards, they can start generating power again. in addition, he's made exporting japanese nuclear technology part
of his growth strategy. the prime minister said the u.s./japan alliance is an integral part of farm policy. he argued the previous democratic party administration ripped the alliance apart. he flew to washington to try to fix things. and that he would take a firm stance on the territorial disputes with china, south korea and russia. he vowed not to budge. >> translator: i declare to protect the lives and property of citizens and territories of the country's land, sea and air. >> reporter: for abe, protecting japan means upgrading the self-defense to a national defense military and having the right to defend allies that come under attack. the prime minister says he's ready to revise the constitution to do that. restarting nuclear reactors and
amending the constitution, these issues are dividing the country. but prime minister abe said he needs to tackle them head-on. his first term in office was cut short, but he's determined to show that this time around he's in it for the long haul. nhk world, tokyo. journalists at china's state-run media are assessing the election outcome. they say the governing coalition majority in the upper house could have a negative effect on the region. a tokyo correspondent for the cctv network said prime minister abe is likely to press ahead with efforts to revise the constitution. the news agency published an editorial about the election. it said the abe administration is well-known for its right-wing leanings and warns that it could become a source of instability for the asia-pacific region and
the international community. japanese have watched prime minister abe notch up successes in his foreign policy. but they're keen l i aware he'll need more time to improve relations with two of japan's most powerful neighbors, china and south korea. we have this report. >> reporter: prime minister abe argues the japan/u.s. alliance became unstable during the former administration. he met with president obama to try to smooth things over. then he got japan to join talks for the transpacific partnership, despite opposition at home. >> japan must work more closely with the u.s. >> reporter: abe sat down with russian president vladimir putin and convinced him to join in
negotiations. and he actively promoted japanese industry abroad. including nuclear power technology. >> i think having this diplomacy has been a very active one, a very dynamic one. and he's been able to visit so many countries in such a short, short time, which is rather amazing when you think about previous experiences of many cabinets. >> reporter: some media describe abe as a hawkish leader. his approach to territorial disputes has had an impact on the negotiations. chinese leaders dispute japan's control over the senkaku islands in the east china sea. abe has stress ed there's no rom to back town. xi jinping has taken a similar
stance. they haven't met. japan officials say chinese ships continue to enter japanese waters near the island. >> i'm very concerned, because if china continues sending these vessels, an accident can happen any moment. and once an accident happens, things can escalate very badly. >> reporter: relations with south korea have also hit a rough patch. some expected they would get better when president pakun took office in february. but things soured after three members of abe's cabinet visited the shrine. the shrine owners awarded. convicted of war crimes after world war ii are also remembered there. >> translator: if japanese leaders forget about history, and continue anarchyistic
behavior, they'll pay for it. >> reporter: but pak has held a summit, to form a front on the political issues but stopped short of singling out japan. experts say members of the obama administration are closely watching how these tensions play out. >> we don't want to see our largest and our most important ally in the pacific, which is japan, we don't want to see japan marginalized. >> reporter: there are no easy solutions for the problems that exist between these nations. but their economies are interacted and share billions of dollars and trade. in one sense, improving relations is a must. it remains the biggest challenge for japanese leaders. nhk world, tokyo.
prime minister abe is expected to expand his focus now to an emotionally charged issue. he's dreamed for years of amending the constitution, and its passivist core. >> reporter: voters in japan have been hitting the books ahead of the upper house election. they're learning more about their constitution, now that politicians are debating whether to change it. managers of this bookstore say sales of constitution related material are two to three times higher than usual. >> translator: i'm interested in the constitution as the ldp's new constitutional draft is a popular topic at my college. >> translator: i think we should seriously think about the constitution before the election. especially when there is a group of politicians who want to change it.
>> reporter: u.s.-led allied forces to control of japan after world war ii. and worked to disarm the country. article 9 states the japanese people forever renounce war. many citizens supported the passivist stance. but some politicians argued the constitution does not reflect the free will of japanese, because it was established while their country was under occupation. reforms of the democratic party in 1965, and made revising the document their mission. >> translator: the amendment of the constitution has been one of our main goals since the
foundation of our party. it was our pledge in the recent lower house election, and will be again in the upper house poll. >> reporter: now that the ldp is back in power, prime minister shinzo abe is hoping to accomplish that goal. he wants to change the constitution so he can turn self-defense forces into a national defense military, and defend allies that come under attack. but before he revises article 9, abe wants to change article 96. it stipulates modifying the constitution requires a two-thirds vote by lawmakers in both houses of the diet. then a national referendum. abe argues a simple majority should be enough. >> translator: it's nonsense to
say that you can't change the constitution when one-third of lawmakers oppose it, when more than half of japan's citizens want to do this. revising article 96 will make it possible for the people to renew the constitution. >> reporter: lawmakers in the u.s., germany and south korea also need the approval of two-thirds of their legislators to change their constitutions. the u.s. and german constitutions require additional legislative approval. in south korea, amendments must be approved by referendum. politicians in all of these nations have amended their constitutions multiple times since world war ii. those in japan have not, since 1947. some experts say the reason is that people who want to revise it haven't come up with a proposal that's convincing
enough to sway the japanese people. the discussions over amending article 96 have overshadowed the wider debate about whether the constitution should be revised at all. this issue will continue to cause divisions in japan long after the election. nhk world, tokyo. many people in japan have been telling prime minister abe to prioritize rebuilding the northea northeast. some say the work to reconstruct communities since the 2011 disaster has been slow. nhk world's cha yam a gi chi went to the region to find out what voters expect from their politicians moving forward. >> reporter: temporary housing units dot part of the landscape in yamada. this man is one of a quarter of the town's residents who live this way.
the 65-year-old and his wife have stayed in this cramped space since 2011. the unit has low ceilings and thin walls that offer little insulation. >> translator: in this housing, it's extremely hot in summer. and really cold in winter. and it's so confined. >> reporter: prime minister abe made disaster reconstruction among his top priorities. his administration has increased spending over the next three years by 30%. to $260 billion. but people in the north who lost homes are frustrated. they say the rebuilding process has been too slow. many people in yamada can't construct their homes where they used to be. municipal authorities are moving
communities to higher ground, in case of future tsunami. so they also need to create new plots by flattening mountains. they say people won't be able to start rebuilding for at least two years. >> translator: i'd like them to construct new residential places earlier. in temporary housing, some elderly people have already died. we want to move to normal homes as soon as possible. >> reporter: he wonders how he'll pay to rebuild his home. the tsunami destroyed a boat repairing company he worked for, along with ports and the many boats. he only has a part-time job now. he qualifies for about $50,000 in public assistance.
but the national average housing price is almost four times that. he and his wife want politicians to know, people in the northeast are desperate to get their lives back. >> translator: i want all the political parties to get together, to help rebuild disaster hit communities sooner, so that we can live in our houses again. >> reporter: he and many others want the reconstruction to produce results. he hopes this will be the last election he watches from temporary housing. chie yam a gi shi, nhk world, japan. time now for a check on the weather with mui. it seems people in parts of the united states are dealing with severe weather conditions.
what's the latest? >> good morning, catherine. yes, some of your outdoor plans may have been spoiled this weekend, due to the severe weather, leaving parts of the united states. here's what happened. intense thunderstorms battered las vegas on friday and saturday, causing widespread floods and power outages. hundreds of lightning strikes were reported with record-breaking rainfall of 6 million in some places. they'll remain wet through monday. a tornado ripped through a college campus just to the east of cleveland on saturday. it brought winds of 180 kilometers per hour, damaging a few buildings on campus. luckily there were only a few students there at the time and no one was injured. quite dangerous here. you can see that the eastern half of the united states are still going to be looking quite messy. in fact, very wet across the southeastern corner. in fact, we actually have a report of a tornado touchdown here in florida today already. and these conditions are going to be likely to continue to be
unstable. we have a front stretching all the way across the mid-atlantic. underneath it we may see severe thunderstorms yet again, and that includes large hail, damaging winds as well as a few tornadoes that cannot be ruled out. another area of the battle zone to the very warm humid flow, all the way up to the north. and the northerly cool air just colliding in the two air masses, and they're creating that zone with the severe weather. that's likely to have the possibilities generating large hail as well as damaging gusts also. and a few tornadic activity which cannot be ruled out. down towards the south near the four corners area, in california, this is where wet weather will continue due to the summer monsoonal flow. very active. we're actually talking about flash flood watches in southern california and into new mexico. and flash floods, for your information, is the number one thunderstorm related killer. so if you have any children that are near the creeks, please do make them stay away from the
area and the washes. flash floods can actually be very dangerous. also, frequent lightnings are possible across the area where we might find the severe weather. this is washington, d.c., for example, with 31 degrees in your temperatures. we're also looking at a heat dome across much of the west. boise looking at 37. denver in the same numbers as well. salt lake city, look at that, soaring in the 40s. let's move over to eastern continental asia. very hot in western and central japan, due to the summer pacific high, still sitting on top of western and central japan. to the western region, the humid flow from the western region of the area. developing a lot of rain clouds. we're still talking about very heavy rain in the korean peninsula as well as inland china. possibly we're looking at additional amounts of 200 millimeters, some places in the korean peninsula. lots of heavy downpour to be