LDP defies expectations with a comfortable victory . . .
Newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) emerged with a strong majority in Sunday's parliamentary election, even amid polling predictions that it would lose power. The election results are a significant victory for Kishida, who took office only one month ago. The LDP managed to hold onto 261 seats out of 455, while the LDP-Komeito conservative coalition dropped from 305 to 293 seats. This absolute stable majority will give the party control of parliamentary committees and ease the passage of legislation, including key budget proposals for economic stimulus and a revival of nuclear power, without the need for a coalition with the Komeito party on each vote. The victory also gives Kishida the mandate he needs to remain the country’s leader, at least until the upper house elections next summer.
Kishida now finds himself with a decisive majority . . .
Kishida, by all accounts a soft-spoken banker, has not garnered much public excitement since he became his party’s leader last month. His father and grandfather were in government, and Kishida himself has held various government offices for nearly 30 years. Before the election, he promised to spend trillions of yen to stimulate Japan’s economy, the third-largest in the world, in the wake of the pandemic’s devastating impacts. The new leader now finds himself in the position of holding the bureaucratic keys to accomplish many of his campaign promises, including revitalizing Japan’s declining middle class, once the hallmark of its so-called economic miracle.
Next few months critical test as tensions rise in the region . . .
Kishida has promised to be tougher on China than his predecessor, including by building closer ties with Taiwan. With more and more regional military activity by China, Russia, and North Korea, foreign policy also will top the new prime minister’s agenda. Kishida has inherited his country’s position in the Quad, a group of leaders from the U.S., Japan, Australia, and India. The Quad arguably has grown more important given the mutually shared challenges of each member posed by the pandemic, supply chain delays, climate change, and the China challenge. If his administration cannot meet these formidable challenges in the coming months, there is a chance Kishida will lose power in next summer’s upper house elections. A victory in those elections will almost certainly guarantee the PM’s uncontested power for the next three years.