TOKYO — Japan's ruling Democrats lost seats in a parliamentary election Sunday, according to media exit polls, dealing a setback to the progressive party's 10-month-old government.
Public broadcaster NHK predicted the Democrats won fewer than 50 contested seats in the upper house election, down from 54 before the vote. Other TV stations say the party likely won 47 to 48 seats.
Official results are not expected until Monday.
But if the projections are correct, the Democrats will lose their 122-seat majority with their tiny coalition partner in the 242-seat upper house. The election, in which half the seats in the upper chamber were up for grabs, won't directly affect the Democrats' grip on power because they control the more powerful lower house of parliament.
To avoid parliamentary gridlock, the Democrats, which last year defeated the conservative Liberal Democratic Party that had led Japan for most of the post-World War II era, will probably seek new partners to form a coalition.