Japanese are under the mistaken impression Sunday's elections are about the economy. What they really highlight are the costs of chronic apathy.

Every nation gets the leaders it deserves, quipped 19th century philosopher Joseph de Maistre. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has spent two years punting on the big decisions it was entrusted to tackle. Polls show the economy is the biggest concern among voters, who also believe it's on the wrong track (it's in recession, after all). Yet with turnout expected to hit a record low, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which put Japan on this trajectory, is set to win in a landslide.

Abe claims that a fresh mandate will help him sell his Abenomics revival program to reluctant members of his own party. There's little reason to believe him. In the last two years, even as inequality has grown faster than Tokyo's debt load and the fabled salaryman has morphed into part-time man, Abe has focused inordinate attention elsewhere. He's passed controversial secrets laws, made undemocratic end runs around the pacifist constitution, alienated China and South Korea, and tried to restart nuclear reactors against widespread public opposition.