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Abe claims mandate for economic, security policies despite lowest turnout ever

by

Staff Writer

Emerging as the big winner in the Lower House election, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared Monday he has a renewed mandate to continue his policies and pursue his agenda — despite the lowest voter turnout on record.

On Sunday, Abe’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party and its junior ruling coalition partner, Komeito, won 325 of the 475 seats and secured more than two-thirds of the powerful chamber for a supermajority.

In a news conference Monday afternoon, Abe vowed to pursue “Abenomics” — his economic policy based on the three “arrows” of aggressive monetary easing, more fiscal spending and structural reforms — that he says will raise Japan’s long-term growth potential.

The landslide means Abe will see few internal rivals willing to challenge him in the LDP’s presidential election next fall, likely extending his leadership and possibly his prime ministership for more than three more years.

But that claim was tainted by a record-low turnout of about 52.66 percent, down 6.66 points from the previous low in 2012, when the LDP returned to power by ending the Democratic Party of Japan’s first-ever term in control.

Abe, who is expected to be re-elected prime minster next week, said the economy will remain his top priority.

“We will keep prioritizing the economic agenda. We will spread (the benefits) of economic recovery to all across the country,” a triumphant Abe told reporters gathered at LDP headquarters in Tokyo.

Abe argued that by re-electing the LDP-Komeito coalition on Sunday, voters also endorsed his security policies, including those linked to his controversial reinterpretation of the pacifist Constitution.

Abe pledged to enact relevant security bills in the upcoming ordinary Diet session, which starts in January, to allow Japan to use the right of collective self-defense.

“Of course voters gave support (to the planned security bills). We will carry out what we have promised,” he said.

The Diet is now expected to hold a special session to re-elect Abe as the new prime minister on Dec. 24, and he will immediately form a new Cabinet.

NHK reported that Abe intends to retain all ministers from his last Cabinet and to keep all current LDP executives in their posts. During Monday’s news conference, Abe declined to comment on the report, only saying he will soon make decisions on personnel affairs.

Sunday’s victory means he is also now more likely to call a national referendum on revising the pacifist Constitution, a long-held ambition.

But Abe trod softly on constitutional issues during the news conference, only saying that as LDP chief he will push efforts nationwide to persuade the public.

Amending the charter is tough. It must be initiated by a two-thirds majority vote in both the Lower and Upper houses and then ratified by a majority of voters in a national referendum.

The next challenge for Abe is the Upper House election in summer 2016.

The final tally of Sunday’s vote showed that the LDP won 290 seats, down five from the previous election in 2012, while Komeito grabbed 35 seats, up four.

Meanwhile on Sunday night, one successful independent joined the LDP, bringing the total number of the ruling bloc lawmakers to 326, the same figure as before the election.

The total far exceeds two-thirds of the 475 seats of the chamber, allowing the ruling bloc to override the Upper House and to chair every permanent committee.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party, won 73 seats, up from its pre-election number of 62.

Ishin no To (Japan Innovation Party) won 41 seats, down one, while the Japanese Communist Party nearly tripled its strength, from eight to 21.

Jisedai no To (Party for Future Generations), an extreme right-wing party, won only two seats, down from 20.

Indeed, no strong enthusiasm for Abe was seen during the election. Observers pointed to the lack of viable opposition parties, not positive support for Abe and his LDP, as the reason for the ruling bloc’s huge victory this time.

Breakdown of election results
Party Total won Electoral districts Proportional representation Pre-election strength
LDP 290 222 68 295
Komeito 35 9 26 31
DPJ 73 38 35 62
Ishin 41 11 30 42
Jisedai 2 2 0 20
JCP 21 1 20 8
Seikatsu 2 2 0 5
SDP 2 1 1 2
Others 9 9 0 14
Total 475 295 180 479*

*One vacancy

  • badforu

    Abe is using this play our of obamas book… talkin that the vote is telling him to do things against the people wishes. Ever since Fukshima it seems as thou Abe is guided by the usa, the secrecy law, the not telling anyone anything, nd then borrowing money that has 2 tax phases to pay back, Abe implimented tht first tax and it brought the economy to its knees, and so he had to make a play for this next tax he has to put on them for the money they gave him. So he needed fresh people in goverment cause those tht saw what the first tax did may not let the next one through, with new blood in there they will be too new to the goverment to know what to do, so Abe will pass the second tax

    • rossdorn

      “….. talkin that the vote is telling him to do things against the people wishes.”

      What are you talking about? The election result clearly shows that this is not true…

      If the people thought that Abe goes against their wishes, I am sur, a well educated people as the japanese would have massed at the polling stations and made their displeasure known by voting against him…

      • carl56

        Just like in America, hey? Two things on the menu: Rat’s Ass or Skunk Sack. The taste of rat’s ass “displeases” me so I guess I’ll have skunk sack. As a citizen, I feel so…powerful!!!

        Use that grey mush, baby.

      • badforu

        Im not up on Japan society, and there goverment outside of common knowledge. I have only been examining them since fukashima. Abe is under the same tutelge as is the USA.

        The secrecy law was a disfavored law, 5-1 but still passed and is now in effect. Turning the Nuclear power back on is not favored by the people, an Abe is determined to turn them back on. The tax Abe put on them has put them in a spiral, and he has another tax to put on them. that will crush them. They are not built that way. You would probably do better and tell me what Abe has done that was hailed as a victory for the Japanese people, then i will check it out and may have a better opinion of the man, but from what i have seen. Not looking good.

        Why does Abe have to impliment these taxes would probably be better to ask. Letting Abe handcuff the Japanese economy for the next 15 years should be illegal. Why hasnt your Emperor stepped in?

      • rossdorn

        “You would probably do better and tell me what Abe has done that was hailed as a victory for the Japanese people.”

        You are funny…. You are asking me? Why don’t you ask the large majority that voted for him?

        I am simply writing about “what is”.
        You write about what you think “should be”.

        And… speaking of reality… It is not the Emperor’s job to interfere in politics.
        (He is not “my” Emperor, I am just a guest in this country…)

  • timefox

    It’s also expected of Abe ministry the third. The next Abe ministry should work on diplomacy, economy and national defense. Because a stage was arranged, I want you to strengthen more national defense in particular.

    Abe is a Japanese prime minister. Prime Minister Abe consider the profit of Japan first.

    • rossdorn

      Good thinking, straight to the point.

      Unlike in the rest of the world’s democracies, in Japan the governments for the interests of Japan and not for the interests of the people of Japan.

      And with these elections the people of Japan have shown that they agree….

  • rossdorn

    Dear Reiji Yoshida,

    interesting headline… „Abe claims mandate for economic, security policies despite lowest turnout ever“ and then even this: “Indeed, no strong enthusiasm for Abe was seen during the election.”

    I read the whole article, hoping to find a single argument, why any of this ought o matter to Abe… but was unable to detect anything.

    Mr Yoshida, did you by chance forget a paragraph with any argument, or what is the meaning of that headline?