Liberal Democratic Party wins landslide victory in Japan election

Featured Japan - December 17th, 2012

Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party won by a landslide, handing ex-premier Shinzo Abe a second chance to run the country amid an economic recession and strained ties with China.

The long-ruling LDP, which was ousted in 2009 after almost 50 years in power, won 291 seats while its junior ally New Komeito took at least 29 seats, or more than two-thirds of the 480 seats in the lower house needed to overrule parliament’s upper house, according to public broadcaster NHK on Sunday.

LDP President Shinzo Abe, who left the post five years ago citing ill health, is expected to be named prime minister by the special Diet session later this month and has pledged to end 20 years of economic stagnation, and is expected to have an assertive foreign policy amid the territorial dispute with China and a pro-nuclear energy policy despite deep public concerns on nuclear safety, Reuters reports.

The hawkish ex-premier promised more public spending, looser monetary policy and to allow nuclear energy a wider role in the country, a stark contrast to Yoshihiko Noda’s policy such as pushing to double sales tax to tackle Japan’s massive debt and a plan to phaseout nuclear power which saw a turnabout.

Mr. Abe has also called for strengthening control over the Senkaku Islands and has pledged to boost public defense spending as well as reinforcing Japan-US alliance, which has slumped under the DPJ.

“This was an overwhelming rejection of the DPJ,” Gerry Curtis, a professor at New York’s Columbia University, told Reuters.

“Chinese assertiveness and North Korean provocations nudged the public from its usual post-war complacency toward a new desire to stand up for Japanese sovereignty,” he added.