Abe raises target for upper house race

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday raised his target for the result of upcoming House of Councillors election, saying he wants to secure at least 129 seats in the upper house to control all its standing committees, on top of the chamber itself.

Abe earlier said his Liberal Democratic Party aimed to secure a majority in the 242-seat chamber by holding a total of 122 seats along with its junior coalition partner, the New Komeito party, as they strived to wrest control of it away from opposition parties and end the divided Diet.

"By winning a comfortable majority, we will build a self-respecting Japan under political stability," Abe said in his stump speech in Chiba Prefecture.

Half of the 242 seats come up for the July 21 election. Under the new goal, the ruling bloc needs to win 70 seats -- compared with an earlier target of 63 -- in addition to the 59 seats already held and not contested this time.

The more ambitious goal came as opinion polls have suggested that the LDP has a significant lead over opposition parties, with some indicating it would obtain a majority in the contested 121 seats on its own.