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Last Updated: Monday, 30 July 2007, 10:23 GMT 11:23 UK
Japanese PM 'will not stand down'
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reacts after learning the result of the upper house elections
Despite the defeat, Mr Abe has vowed to press on with reforms
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has reiterated his intention to remain in office, a day after suffering a crushing defeat in upper house polls.

Mr Abe told a news conference that he took the result "very seriously" and pledged a reshuffle of his Cabinet.

But he said that it was his duty to continue as premier and push forward his reform agenda.

Support for Mr Abe's government has plummeted in recent months following a series of gaffes and scandals.

"It was a severe result. We accept the people's judgement seriously and sincerely," Mr Abe said.

Voters gave a clear failing mark... The prime minister should face the results seriously and step down
Asahi newspaper

"However, it is my responsibility to continue with my mission in building a new nation and pushing for reform."

He said a Cabinet reshuffle would take place after a special session of parliament.

"Voters said we must reflect on our shortcomings and refresh the line-up," Mr Abe said. "I plan to reshuffle the Cabinet and top party posts at an appropriate time."

Despite Mr Abe's determination to stay in his job, the deputy leader of the LDP, Hidenao Nakagawa, has decided to resign over Sunday's polls.

'Failing mark'

Mr Abe achieved solid levels of popular support when he took office in September 2006.

FACTS AND FIGURES
There are 242 seats in the upper house, half of which were up for grabs
Pre-polls, the LDP-led coalition controlled 133 seats
The coalition won 46 seats (LDP: 37, New Komeito: 9)*
Opposition DPJ won 60 seats*
LDP-led coalition now controls 105 seats*
*Source: Kyodo news agency

But many voters began to question his leadership skills following a series of ministerial scandals and a crisis over lost pension records that affected millions of payments.

In Sunday's polls, Mr Abe's Liberal Democratic Party-led ruling coalition fell far short of the 64 seats it needed to retain its majority in the upper house.

The opposition Democratic Party of Japan made huge gains, becoming the largest party in the upper house for the first time in history.

Final official results are expected later on Monday.

The ruling coalition still has a sizeable majority in the more powerful lower house, which chooses the prime minister.

HAVE YOUR SAY
The Japanese people have at last demonstrated that when something is not right they are going to vote against the government
Yuji, Tokyo, Japan

But an opposition-dominated upper house will mean that Mr Abe's administration may find it hard to pass the laws that it wants.

Several newspapers have called for Mr Abe to step down or call a snap election.

"Voters gave a clear failing mark," the Asahi newspaper said. "The prime minister should face the results seriously and step down."

Mr Abe has been damaged by this heavy defeat, says the BBC's Chris Hogg in Tokyo.

In fact, commentators say, the only reason he has not been forced to step down is that no-one else in his party wants to take over after such a drubbing at the polls, our correspondent adds.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Footage from Shinzo Abe's press conference



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