Japan ruling bloc set to keep Upper House majority


Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's ruling coalition looked set to win a comfortable majority in today's Upper House election, bolstering his claim to a mandate for tough-love reforms of the troubled economy.

Public broadcaster NHK said the coalition's win could be even greater at between 70 and 84 seats. The ruling bloc needs 63 to maintain its majority in the 247-seat chamber.

The LDP itself was on course to win between 65 and 67 seats, private broadcasters said, generally in line with most analysts' predictions. NHK's forecast for the party was between 60 and 70.

Mr Koizumi needs a comfortable victory for his party and its allies to survive challenges to his leadership and his reform proposals, many of which strike at the heart of the long-ruling LDP's tradition support base of farmers and shopkeepers.