Shinzo Abe and Party Dominate Japan Snap Elections

Shinzo Abe

Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) dominated the Japan Snap Elections on Sunday, as reported by media exit polls. The Japanese prime minister has another term to start afresh with his strategy for economic revival called Abenomics.

The LDP and New Komeito won 317 seats at least, out of 475 seats in the lower house. Though media exit polls have a history of accuracy, official results will be released on Monday morning. The prime minister expressed his relief over the results as the government is maintained. The voter turnout however, was low which disappoints him. He said there is a need to improve the trust of voters in politics.

On November 18, Japan’s prime minister called for a snap election, after which dissolved the parliament’s lower house following economic recession impacted by an 8 percent consumption tax hike (from 5 percent) in April. He likewise delayed a 10 percent sales tax hike which is set for October 2015.

The PM’s call for snap elections confused many, as his approval ratings were faltering. Elections were still in the later part of 2016. Political analysts believed the prime minister took risks to gain leverage to push the necessary reforms and achieve his political and economic goals. His campaign was similar to his 2012 campaign, still bearing promises of reviving the economy, promoting women’s participation in the workforce, revising the constitution and pursuing fiscal reconstruction.

When he learned the election results were in his favor, the Japanese PM said the economy is the top priority and he promised to ask the business sector to increase wages in April to make sure the entire economic recovery will spread. Minister Taro Aso of Finance said the election is a big win for LDP as it would clearly endorse Abenomics.

Amidst the PM’s victory, the low voter turnout reflects the sentiments of the public. The estimate is below 53 percent, the lowest since World War II. In the 2012 elections, voter turnout was 59.3 percent. Abe’s victory seems to have resulted from the low turnout. Even with few viable alternatives, Shinzo Abe and party still dominated Sunday’s Japan snap elections.

A 42-year-old voter told CNBC on Sunday afternoon, there was no other choice. In Tokyo, a taxi driver said whoever is in power does not make any difference and that the LDP is, for now, the only competent party to handle the government reins. When asked about his thoughts on Abenomics, he said a hundred percent of clients say they do not feel any economic recovery.

Some say Abe’s victory happens because he was able to touch the nationalist sentiment. While he focused on economic policies, the final words in his recent campaigns talked about defending Japan. As hundreds of supporters were waving the Japanese flags, Abe promised to defend the people and the country’s territorial integrity.

In the course of his speech, he reminded the audience of the time when Japanese excellent products were outsold by Korean and Chinese products worldwide. Some said that was all the people needed to hear.

A 53-year-old commented, while he is not for LDP’s ideology, he wanted Abe to confirm the government will stand firmly against South Korea and China. An elder woman said Abe is the only one who will stand up for their county against others, but the media do not report it. Still, Shinzo Abe and his political party dominated Japan’s snap elections.

By Judith Aparri


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Photo courtesy of Dick Thomas Johnson – Flicker License

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