International

Japan polls: Incumbent Prime Minister Abe appears headed to victory

File photo of Japan's Prime Minister and President of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party Shinzo Abe waves to the crowd from a car after his party's campaign rally for the October 22 lower house election in Tokyo.

File photo of Japan's Prime Minister and President of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party Shinzo Abe waves to the crowd from a car after his party's campaign rally for the October 22 lower house election in Tokyo.   | Photo Credit: AP

Japanese voters may not love Mr. Abe, but they appear to want to stick with what they know.

Japan’s leader may have made the right call after all, if not for his country than for himself.

Media polls indicate Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition will handily win a general election on Sunday, possibly even retaining its two-thirds majority in the more powerful lower house of parliament.

Japanese voters may not love Mr. Abe, but they appear to want to stick with what they know, rather than hand the reins to an opposition with little or no track record. Uncertainty over North Korea and its growing missile and nuclear arsenal may be heightening that underlying conservatism.

 

“I buy into Prime Minister Abe’s ability to handle diplomacy,” said Naomi Mochida, a 51-year-old woman listening to Mr. Abe campaign earlier this week in Saitama prefecture, outside of Tokyo.

“I think the most serious threat we face now is the North Korea situation. I feel Prime Minister Abe has been showing the best tactics to handle the situation, compared to other politicians including past prime ministers.”

Mr. Abe dissolved the lower house a little more than three weeks ago on the day it convened for a special session, forcing the snap election. The timing seemed ripe for his ruling Liberal-Democratic Party, or at least better than waiting.

 

Support for Mr. Abe’s Cabinet, the standard measure of a government’s popularity in Japan, had bounced back from summertime lows. The main opposition force, the Democratic Party, was in more disarray than usual after its leader had resigned. Holding off would only give a potential rival, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, more time to organise a challenge.

The election is “mainly about the Abe administration trying to lock in its position ... and with success, get Prime Minister Abe re-elected as president of the LDP in September and rule until after the Tokyo Olympics, until 2021,” Michael Green, a Japan expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, said on a call with journalists.

Koike, her hand forced by Mr. Abe’s decision, hastily launched a new party to contest the election. Her Party of Hope briefly stole the limelight from Abe, attracting a slew of defectors from the Democrats. Its populist platform includes phasing out nuclear power by 2030, and putting on hold an increase in the consumption tax due in 2019.

But Mr. Abe’s gambit appears to be paying off. The initial excitement for the Party of Hope has waned. Koike, the party leader, decided not to run for the 465-seat lower house and won’t even be in Japan on election day. She is heading to Paris for a global conference of mayors that will discuss issues such as climate change.

The Democratic Party has imploded. Its more liberal members have launched yet another grouping, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, which is now outpolling the Party of Hope.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 12:45:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/japan-polls-incumbent-prime-minister-abe-appears-headed-to-victory/article19894058.ece

Next Story