China / World

Abe's ruling bloc wins big in election

By Cai Hong in Tokyo (China Daily) Updated: 2017-10-24 07:46

Stable majority clears Japanese PM for Pacifist Constitution change

Japan's ruling coalition Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito has grabbed a two-thirds majority - or 384 seats of the 465-seats Lower House of the country's parliament, or Diet, in Sunday's election.

The victory could reinforce LDP leader Shinzo Abe's chances of succeeding in the party's leadership contest in September next year and eventually becoming Japan's longest-serving prime minister, according to the Kyodo News.

As the LDP alone has secured a stable majority, defined as at least 261 seats of the Lower House, Abe is expected to be voted back in as Japan's prime minister during a special Diet session to take place as early as Nov 1. He is expected to keep all his current Cabinet members.

Japanese business leaders welcomed the solid victory of the ruling coalition, saying it would ensure political stability as the country tackles economic challenges and the "threat" from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Sadayuki Sakakibara, chairman of the country's largest business lobby, Keidanren, said in a statement on Sunday night that the business community will "fully cooperate" with Abe's government in pushing forward his economic policies and serve as a driving force for Japan's economy.

The Nikkei climbed more than 1 percent on Monday in its 15th straight day of gains, a record winning streak for the index. The yen hit a three-month low against the US dollar, helping boost shares of Japanese exporters.

The LDP is claiming the win as an endorsement of its leader's economic policy dubbed as Abenomics, which is aimed at dragging Japan out of decades of deflation using monetary and fiscal policy, married to industrial restructuring and reform.

The ruling coalition's supermajority will also give Abe the mandate to pursue a change in Japan's Pacifist Constitution.

It is the pledge of the LDP since it was formed in 1955, Abe said on Monday. He talked about pushing forward debate on constitutional revision within the party.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Monday that the Chinese government is aware of the result of the election.

"China attaches importance to developing its ties with Japan, and hopes Japan will observe the two countries' four political documents and four-point principled agreement, and take concrete actions to push the bilateral ties to improve steadily," Geng said.

"At the same time we hope Japan will continue walking down the path of peaceful development and play a constructive role in regional peace and stability."

The Constitution's Article 9 bans the maintenance of armed forces. But the government has interpreted it to allow a military exclusively for self-defense.

Backers of Abe's proposal to clarify the military's ambiguous status say it would codify the status quo. Critics fear it would allow an expanded role overseas for the military.

Abe was already reaching out to opposition parties in favor of constitutional revision just hours after the election, signaling his intent to work with the Party of Hope led by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.

"The members of the Party of Hope support constitutional revision, and they have many people who are willing to engage in constructive discussions," Abe said on Sunday.

Only 53.68 percent of voters in Japan went to the polling stations in Sunday's general election, which was the second-lowest turnout since World War II, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

Wang Qingyun in Beijing contributed to this story.

Hot Topics