PM Shinzo Abe claims a fresh mandate: LDP and junior partner Komeito utilize weak opposition

PM Shinzo Abe claims a fresh mandate: LDP and junior partner Komeito utilize weak opposition

Sawako Uchida and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) overcame the late bumps of 2016 and major headaches of the first few months of 2017, to emerge victorious in the House of Representatives election held on October 22. This is a far cry from the disaster of elections held in Tokyo this year that witnessed a debacle for the LDP. At the same time, internal poltical discontent began to whisper more loudly based on scandals related to Abe. However, the election result now provides Abe with a fresh mandate and if he is genuine about finally listening to ordinary Japanese nationals, then maybe he can leave a legacy.

Of course, the shenanigans of North Korea in relation to military saber rattling and launching missiles over Northern Japan certainly boosted Abe. The duality of this applies to making Abe appear steadfast in rebuking North Korea and putting his scandals into the shadows.

Japan News reports, “Japan news reports, “In Sunday’s election, the LDP and its coalition partner Komeito secured 310 seats, or a two-thirds majority of the 465-seat lower house, the level necessary for initiating constitutional amendment.”

Abe, seeking fresh momentum then unleashed his “human resources development revolution.” Once more, Abe understood that this policy would further put past scandals into the wilderness and fused this with being more bellicose towards North Korea, rather than the milder approach being taken by South Korea.

Abe commented before the election, “We will turn Japan’s social security system into one that responds to all generations by boldly diverting policy resources to resolve the two major concerns – child rearing and (elderly) nursing care – that working generations confront.”

If Abe is sincere – and given his need to reconnect with the Japanese electorate – then he will certainly be part of the bread and butter conversations that ordinary citizens are talking about. After all, issues related to child rearing and caring for vulnerable elderly people are of utmost importance in Japan. This is based on serious demographic issues and helping families to overcome enormous burdens in caring and providing for elderly citizens in nursing care.

Abe needs to tamper his projects in relation to so-called “Abenomics” and amending the Constitution. Instead, he should note that the North Korea angle boosted his standings and his “human resources development revolution” offers the chance for Abe to reconnect with the Japanese electorate. In other words, he must turn away from a somewhat arrogant attitude because of the geopolitical angle – and the disarray of various opposition parties – that enabled Abe to reinvent himself. Hence, he will never get a better opportunity to genuinely leave a lasting legacy by connecting with deep-rooted social policies that need reinvigorating.

If, however, Abe refocuses on the Constitution, then the election will be squandered because people did not vote on this issue. Zentaro Kamei, a former LDP lawmaker, said, “the reason given for this snap election was Abe’s proposal to change what sales tax hike revenues would be used for. If he starts talking about the constitution, people will say, ‘You didn’t ask me that’.”

Yuriko Koike, the Tokyo Governor and brainchild behind the Party of Hope (Kibo no To), never really focused on the election. This can be seen by her aloofness towards the election and her visit to Paris in relation to being the Governor of Tokyo on the day of the election. Meanwhile, other opposition parties are in disarray but credit still must be given to Abe for taking the bull by the horns. After all, Theresa May of the United Kingdom failed to get a fresh mandate because instead of focusing on social policies in a positive sense, May instead appeared to be picking on the elderly and “the rest is history.”

Overall, Abe utilized the internal political situation and external geopolitical crisis on the Korean Peninsula – while focusing on his “human resources development revolution.”

Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group

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