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Japan Ruling Coalition Loses Seats in Upper House


Exit polls from Japan's elections Sunday indicate Prime Minister Naoto Kan's ruling coalition has lost a majority in the upper house of Parliament.

Japanese news media polls projected that the Democratic Party of Japan won fewer than 50 of the contested seats, less than the 54 they hoped to win.

Final results are expected Monday. If the projections are confirmed, the ruling coalition will lose the majority in the 242-seat chamber.

Tokyo NHK television network quoted Prime Minister Naoto Kan as telling a lawmaker that he will remain in his position regardless of the election results.

His Democratic Party of Japan holds a majority in the powerful lower house.

But a loss of the majority in the upper chamber means the ruling coalition could run into deadlocks when trying to pass bills to reduce the country's growing public debt.

The elections were seen as a referendum on Mr. Kan and his party's 10 months in office.

Support for the ruling center-left Democratic Party of Japan rose after Mr. Kan took office last month, but quickly plunged after the new leader proposed doubling the sales tax from 5 to 10 percent to help reduce the national debt.

During his last day of campaigning Saturday, Prime Minister Kan said the sales tax will not be raised without seeking a popular mandate in the next lower house election, which must be held by late 2013.

The leader of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party said the prime minister has no clear vision of how to revive Japan's financial system while protecting the livelihoods of its people.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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