Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should not take his Liberal Democratic Party’s big wins in the Lower House election on Sunday as a carte blanche from voters to steer the government as he wishes. Having returned the LDP-Komeito alliance to a two-thirds majority in the chamber, Abe is believed to have made it almost certain that he will be re-elected LDP chief next year for another three-year term, keeping him in office — barring severe setbacks — through 2018 and making him the longest-serving prime minister in decades. But if the prime minister plans to seek major achievements with his extended grip on power, he will need to exert greater efforts to build a broad public consensus instead of resorting to sheer majority force in the Diet.
In calling the snap election, Abe said he was seeking the voters’ judgment on his economic policies, which he credited for creating more than 1 million jobs and pushing up wages during his first two years in office. During the campaign, opposition parties charged that the shrinking of Japan’s economy for two quarters since April proved the failure of “Abenomics,” and criticized Abe for his divisive agenda, including his Cabinet’s decision to reinterpret the Constitution to lift the ban on Japan engaging in collective self-defense.
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