Thumbs up to Abenomics
23 Oct 2017 - 9:10
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan has won a commanding majority for his party in parliamentary elections on Sunday, setting the stage for him to become the nation’s longest-serving premier. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party-led (LDP) coalition has won a combined 310 seats, reaching a two-thirds ‘super majority’ in the 465-member lower house, with 11 seats still up for grabs, broadcaster TV Asahi said.
The victory has many messages and implications. The win is a clear thumbs up for Abenomics by the voters and means his growth strategy centred on the hyper-easy monetary policy will likely continue.
Abenomics refers to the economic policies advocated by Shinzo Abe since December 2012.
In early 2013, after two decades of economic stagnation, the Prime Minister unveiled a comprehensive economic policy package to sustainably revive the Japanese economy while maintaining fiscal discipline. This programme is known as Abenomics. The centerpiece of Abenomics has been the three ‘policy arrows’ targeted at aggressive monetary policy, flexible fiscal policy and growth strategy including structural reform.
A hefty win has raised the likelihood that Abe, who took office in December 2012, will have a third three-year term as LDP leader next September and go on to become Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister.
But winning the election is just the half work done for Abe as there are many challenges awaiting him in coming days.
With the economy slowly improving, voters also seemed willing to accept Abe’s plan to raise a consumption tax that he has vowed to apply to child care and free university and college tuition.
For the Prime Minister, the results were a vindication of his strategy to call a snap election a year earlier than expected, and they raised the possibility that he would move swiftly to try to change the Constitution to make explicit the legality of the Self-Defense Forces, as Japan’s military is known.
The Constitution, in place since 1947, calls for the renunciation of war, and Abe said in May that it should be amended to remove any doubt about the military’s legitimacy.
The election did little to change Japan’s record as one of the worst in the world for female political representation. Fewer than one in five candidates for the lower house were women.
The results were a setback for Yuriko Koike, who started her new party, ‘Kibou no To’, or Party of Hope, with great fanfare just hours before Mr. Abe called the early election last month. After she decided not to run for office, voters lost interest.
Several experts noted the ruling bloc’s win was less a victory for the conservative, long-ruling LDP than a defeat for a divided opposition.