GIS Dossier: Shinzo Abe’s Japan

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe grins after winning Japan’s October 2017 snap election
Oct. 22, 2017: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe smiles in front of an election-night tally board showing a landslide for his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (source: dpa)
  • Conservative voters, a split opposition and political skill have made Shinzo Abe dominant
  • Abenomics has been a tactical success, but structural reforms are lagging
  • The decision to reject immigration may make demographic decline irreversible
  • Mr. Abe proposes a reinvigorated national spirit and “unconventional” measures as remedies

GIS “Dossiers” aim to give our subscribers a quick overview of key topics, regions or conflicts based on a selection of our experts’ reports since 2011. This survey is devoted to the outlook for Japan under the leadership of Shinzo Abe, whose ruling coalition preserved its supermajority in a snap election on October 22. It was the third general election Mr. Abe has won – a number matched by only one other Japanese prime minister. If he stays in office through 2019, he will become the longest-serving head of government in the history of modern Japan.

Mr. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partner New Komeito, a Buddhist party, managed to hang on to their two-thirds constitutional majority despite slumping approval ratings. The feat is even more impressive considering that Prime Minister Abe is pushing three policies that are deeply unpopular with the Japanese public: reviving nuclear power, doubling the national sales tax, and amending Article 9 of Japan’s pacifist constitution to let the country’s armed forces fight in foreign wars.

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