Japan voters to deliver verdict on PM Abe's nearly five-year rule
Sunday 22/October/2017 - 08:12 AM
Japanese voters deliver their verdict on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s nearly five years in power in an election on Sunday that could give him the clout to push ahead with his cherished goal of revising the post-war، pacifist constitution، Reuters reported. Media forecasts show Abe's gamble on the snap poll is likely to pay off، with his conservative Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition closing in on the two-thirds "super majority" it had in parliament's lower house before dissolution. [tmsnrt.rs2kGwCm5]
A hefty victory would raise the likelihood that Abe، who took office in December 2012 promising to bolster defense and reboot the economy، will win a third term as LDP leader next September and go on to become Japan’s longest-serving premier.
It would also reenergize Abe’s push to revise the war-renouncing constitution by clarifying the status of the military، while maintaining his “Abenomics” growth strategy centered on the Bank of Japan’s hyper-easy monetary policy.
The constitution’s Article 9، if taken literally، bans the maintenance of armed forces. But Japanese governments have interpreted it to allow a military exclusively for self-defense.
Backers of Abe’s proposal say it would just codify the status quo. Critics fear it would allow an expanded role overseas for the military.
The LDP’s junior partner، the Komeito، is cautious about changing the constitution، but media have forecast that the LDP and pro-revision opposition parties are on track for the two-thirds majority needed to begin to change the charter.
A weak LDP showing، however، could trigger moves to replace Abe when his term as party chief ends، and cloud the outlook for amending the constitution.
Abe، 63، has already led the LDP to four landslide wins since he took the helm of the party، but turnout has been low and the LDP has typically won with about 25 percent of eligible votes. Others either stayed home or backed opposition parties.
This time، Abe said he needed a new mandate to tackle a “national crisis” from North Korea’s missile and nuclear threat and a fast-ageing population. He called the poll amid confusion in the opposition camp and an uptick in his ratings، dented earlier in the year by suspected cronyism scandals.