Exit polls in Japan’s upper house election suggest a heavy defeat for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. His ruling Liberal Democrat party and its junior coalition partner have been credited by the Japanese public broadcaster NHK with between 39 and 55 seats. They would need 64 seats to maintain its majority.
If the exit polls are confirmed, Abe will be under increasing pressure to resign, just 10 months after becoming Prime Minister.
However, as his Liberal Democrats still have a strong grip on the more powerful lower house of parliament, he could hang on to the post.
Laws would be harder to push through, though, and in the past Prime Ministers have taken direct responsibility for defeat in the upper house and fallen on their sword.
The opposition Democratic Party hoped to make the most of scandals clouding Abe’s government, and exit polls give them the upper house majority.