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Abe tells ministers to prepare for work after election victory


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at the first Cabinet meeting on Tuesday following the ruling bloc's victory in Sunday's upper house election, instructed his ministers to prepare to push ahead with his policy goals.

Speaking at an informal session after the meeting, Abe told them they need to "deal with policies speedily" and "push ahead with their duties," according to a government official.

Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, the New Komeito party, won a majority in the House of Councillors election, wresting control of the chamber from opposition parties in a result that allows Abe more room for policy maneuvering.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters after the meeting that he will "continue to work to achieve solid results in foreign affairs and fulfill people's expectations." Kishida later left for Israel on a five-day trip to host a ministerial meeting on efforts to bring peace to the Middle East.

Finance Minister Taro Aso said the government should consider drawing up a supplementary budget to strengthen the economy against the possible negative impact from the planned consumption tax increase from April.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Abe will decide this fall whether the government will raise the sales tax rate to improve the country's fiscal situation. The top government spokesman said the premier will take into consideration the revised April-June growth data, due out Sept. 9, and other "various situations."

Opposition parties, meanwhile, have been reflecting on their poor showing in the election.

Goshi Hosono, secretary general of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, told reporters that he will step down from the party post in late August to take the blame for the party's heavy defeat in the election, despite calls from DPJ President Banri Kaieda for him to stay.

Japan Restoration Party executives agreed that Shintaro Ishihara and Toru Hashimoto will remain its co-leaders. Hashimoto, who doubles as Osaka mayor, sparked controversy before the election by making comments apparently defending Japan's wartime system of military brothels in other Asian countries.