He may already be six months in as Japan’s Prime Minister, but pundits say the true test of Shinzo Abe’s power is if his Liberal Democratic Party, together with their junior partner New Komeito, will be able to win the majority of the seats in the upcoming Upper House elections. He has said that gaining the upper hand in the Parliament will make passing economic and political reforms easier for his administration.
He has been receiving high marks from the public and approval ratings are at a high, so he and his party are expected to win an overwhelming majority of the 121 seats up for grabs. Doing so would also ensure that he will not have to face a public vote in the next three years, barring any “hostile takeovers” in the Diet. His supporters say that if they do win, he will be using his clout to force changes on industries that have long been tolerated by the government, like the agriculture industry or to revise the country’s labor laws that are too restrictive. His detractors predict that once his LDP gets the power, he will abandon his economic project of the past six months and focus instead on his right-wing tendencies that include revising the constitution, strengthening the military and re-assessing the wartime history of the country.
Abe kicked off the official campaign on Thursday at a train station near the crippled Fukushima power plant. “We will regain a strong economy that will boost reconstruction,” he promised the voters. Meanwhile, Democratic Party of Japan leader Banri Kaieda started his party’s campaign in Iwate, one of the worst-hit areas in the 2011 disasters.
[ via SCMP ]
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