Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party on Sunday secured over two-thirds majority in the lower house of Parliament. The party, along with a small coalition partner the Komeito, won at least 312 seats in the 465-member House, reported the Associated Press. The win gives Abe’s ruling coalition, which already holds majority in the upper house, free reign to pass legislation in the country. Japan recorded 54 per cent voter turnout yesterday, as Typhoon Lan battered the country.
“I think the results reflected the voters’ preference for a solid political foundation and their expectations for us to push polices forward and achieve results,” Abe said following the election result, reported AP. “I will humbly face the victory and continue to work humbly and sincerely,” he added.
Four seats are still being counted, and the final tally is expected later on Monday.
The Japanese Prime Minister had dissolved the lower house and called for snap polls earlier this year in a bid to extend his premiership for another three years till 2021. With this win, Abe is likely to acquire the title of Japan’s longest serving Prime Minister, reported Reuters. In a speech to members of the House in September, he had said he was seeking public mandate on his policies. The four-year term of the House was to otherwise end in December 2018.
Further, Abe’s call for snap polls and dissolution of the House also delayed intervention from Opposition members regarding allegations of government favouritism in awarding contracts. Abe’s support ratings had dropped at least 30 per cent last summer following the allegations.
The win for Abe, who returned to power in December 2012, will allow him to pursue his policies with relation to North Korea, his ties with the US, his ‘Abenomics’ monetary policy and push for nuclear energy, reported AP.
Abe’s policies on North Korea, US
Abe, who had previously described the threats from North Korea as a “national crisis”, has aligned with US President Donald Trump’s tough stance against Pyongyang. Following his win, the two leaders,over a telephonic conversation, agreed to increase pressure on North Korea, reported Reuters. Trump is expected to make his first trip to Japan in November and the two are likely to play golf.
Opposition in the House
The Opposition in the House appears to be the newly formed Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, which won 54 seats, reported AP. The newly launched Party of Hope, by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, bagged 49 seats. Calling the results “very severe”, Koike took the blame for the loss.
Earlier this year, Abe had targeted 2020 for changing Japan’s pacifist constitution, which has never been amended. Any change requires two-thirds approval from Parliament and then public referendum. In an televised interview, Abe reportedly said he would not stick to the target and invited other parties to get onboard his policies. “First, I want to deepen debate and have as many people as possible agree. We should put priority on that,” he said, according to Reuters.
Markets record 21-year high
Japan’s Nikkei share average recorded a 21-year high on Monday, following Abe’s win. Nikkei increased by 0.9 per cent at 21,658.25 at the end of morning trade, reported Reuters.
(With inputs from agencies)