Big loss for Japan's ruling party at elections

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July 30, 2007 05:13

 
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Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged his responsibility for the humiliating defeat of his scandal-plagued coalition in upper house elections, but pledged to remain in office despite expected calls for his resignation. Crippled in Sunday's elections by voter anger over a slew of scandals, Abe's Liberal Democratic Party - which has controlled Japan's government virtually uninterrupted since 1955 - was projected to fall far short of the 64 seats it needed to hold a majority with its coalition partner in the 242-seat upper house. The long-sidelined main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, meanwhile, made a huge gain, taking 60 of the 121-contested seats, to 37 for the LDP, according to final counts early Monday reported by Kyodo News agency. Official results were expected within hours. "The responsibility for this utter defeat rests with me," a grim and chastened-looking Abe said at his party's headquarters late Sunday.

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