Vote of confidence delivered for gov't, Abenomics: Suga

Japanese voters gave Prime Minster Shinzo Abe a vote of confidence in Sunday's election for his handling of the government and economic policies dubbed "Abenomics," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday.

"We received support for our Abenomics economic policies...and (the outcome) is a reflection of public expectations for us to move the politics forward," Suga told a regular press conference.

Together with coalition partner New Komeito party, the Liberal Democratic Party regained control of the upper house, gaining momentum for its drive to boost the deflation-hit Japanese economy, one of its key policy goals and a focal point of voters.

Abe is now considering a new lineup of party executives but is expected to keep the LDP's No. 2 man Shigeru Ishiba in his current post of secretary general, sources said.

Speculation is rife that Abe, boosted by high public support, may shift focus to other agenda items such as amending the U.S.-drafted pacifist Constitution so Japan can play a greater security role in Asia.

U.S. President Barack Obama congratulated Abe on his election victory on Sunday, and expressed the hope of working closely together in addressing various challenges in Asia, Suga said.

"It is important to deepen a national debate about the Constitution," Suga said. "There may be differences in stance among political parties, and I think it is important to discuss and bridge differences with the New Komeito."

To amend the Constitution, the LDP needs to secure support from two-thirds of upper house members, meaning it needs cooperation from other political parties including the New Komeito, which remains cautious about the constitutional revision.

The prime minister has other pressing issues to address after the election, as Tokyo needs to decide whether to proceed with the planned consumption tax hike in April and seeks freer trade under the Trans-Pacific Partnership framework despite some local opposition.

Japan is set to start participating in negotiations being held in Malaysia for the U.S-.led trade liberalization pact from Tuesday.

The government said Abe is scheduled to visit Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines from Thursday to deepen economic ties with the Southeast Asian nations. He is also expected to meet with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in Singapore.