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Monday, July 30, 2007
UPPER HOUSE SHOWDOWN
Abe vows to stay on, hints new Cabinet
Unbowed by his ruling Liberal Democratic Party's crushing defeat in the House of Councilors election, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed Sunday to stay in office and see his initiatives through.
Asked if he will resign to take responsibility for the loss, Abe responded: "I will take responsibility by continuing to strive to create a (better) nation. That is my task."
He pledged to cooperate with the Democratic Party of Japan, now the largest force in the Upper House, and heed public opinion.
But he ruled out dissolving the House of Representatives in the near future, deflecting the suggestion with the comment, "At this moment, I am not thinking about it."
On the other hand, the prime minister left the door open to a Cabinet reshuffle.
Asked if he will reshuffle the Cabinet before the extraordinary Diet session starts this fall, Abe said, "I will consider the timing after scrutinizing the outcome of this election."
The dire election outcome prompted some LDP executives to consider resigning.
Asked who was most responsible for the results, LDP Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa said: "I am."
He later handed his letter of resignation to Abe.
Nakagawa acknowledged the government had failed to adequately respond to the political funds scandals engulfing some Cabinet members.
LDP caucus leader Mikio Aoki was also quick to accept blame, saying, "I am ready (to take responsibility and resign)." But neither leader was willing to comment on Abe's fate, declaring it was too soon to say whether he should step down while the election results remained uncertain.