Japan eyes seventh premier in six years after conservative surge
Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appears set to rise to high office once again following elections today in Japan.
Japan's conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) surged back to power in an election on Sunday just three years after a devastating defeat, giving ex-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a chance to push his hawkish security agenda and radical economic recipe.Skip to next paragraph
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An LDP win will usher in a government committed to a tough stance in a territorial row with China, a pro-nuclear energy policy despite last year's Fukushima disaster, and a potentially risky prescription for hyper-easy monetary policy and big fiscal spending to beat deflation and tame a strong yen.
Exit polls by television broadcasters showed the LDP winning nearly 300 seats in parliament's powerful 480-member lower house, while its ally, the small New Komeito party, looked set to win about 30 seats.
That would give the two parties the two-thirds majority needed to over-rule parliament's upper house, where they lack a majority and which can block bills, which would help to break a policy deadlock that has plagued the world's third biggest economy since 2007.
"We need to overcome the crisis Japan is undergoing. We have promised to pull Japan out of deflation and correct a strong yen. The situation is severe, but we need to do this," Abe said on live TV. "The same goes for national security and diplomacy."
Stocks could rise further
Parliament is expected to vote Mr. Abe in as prime minister on Dec. 26.
Analysts said that while markets had already pushed the yen lower and share prices higher in anticipation of an LDP victory, stocks could rise further and the yen weaken if the "super majority" was confirmed.
Top executives of the LDP and the New Komeito confirmed that they would form a coalition. "The basis, of course, is a coalition between the LDP and the New Komeito. But if there's room to cooperate with Japan Restoration Party, we need to do so," said LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba, referring to a new, right-leaning party that was set to pick up about 46 seats.
"I think there is room to do this in the area of national defense," he said, referring to cooperation with the Japan Restoration Party. The New Komeito is more moderate than the LDP on security issues.
Debacle for Democratic Party of Japan
Exit polls showed Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) winning only 65 seats, just over a fifth of its tally in 2009.
The DPJ, which swept to power in 2009 promising to pay more heed to consumers than companies and reduce bureaucrats' control over policymaking, was hit by defections just before the vote.
Party executive Kohei Otsuka told NHK that Mr. Noda would likely have to quit the party leadership over the defeat, in which several party heavyweights lost their seats.
Many voters had said the DPJ failed to meet election pledges as it struggled to govern and cope with last year's huge earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, and then pushed through an unpopular sales tax increase with LDP help.
New parties emerging
Voter distaste for both major parties has spawned a clutch of new parties including the Japan Restoration Party, founded by popular Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto.