With a new electoral mandate and the real prospect of four more years in power, Japan’s Shinzo Abe on Sunday laid out an ambitious agenda for his government, encompassing economic revival and a more active role on the global stage.
Although turnout was at a record low, Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, Komeito, won a supermajority in the lower house in a snap parliamentary election held Sunday.
Very little has changed. They return with almost exactly the same number of seats as before the election, and the prime minister said he would keep the same cabinet.
But Abe’s political calculation that it would be better to call an election now, before the economy deteriorates further, appears to have paid off, analysts said.
“The top priority is economy,” Abe, asked about his plans, told the state broadcaster NHK as the results were rolling in Sunday night. “We will proceed with our strategic diplomacy, taking a bird’s-eye view of the globe, increase Japan’s status in the world and protect our national interest.”
The 60-year-old prime minister had called the election as a referendum on his “Abenomics” strategy to revive the economy, mainly by pumping in huge amounts of money.
This approach appeared to have failed when the economy last quarter tipped into recession, but Abe went to the electorate with the campaign slogan: “This road is the only road.”
Even if it does not entirely believe it, the electorate appears to have conceded Abe’s point.
The LDP won 291 seats in the 475-seat House of Representatives, down from 295 before the election, while Komeito won 35, as of early Monday morning. The main opposition Democratic Party won 73 seats, up from 62 but a far cry from the 100 seats it had hoped for.