News / Asia

    Ruling Coalition Wins Control of Japan's Legislature

    Japan's Prime Minister and the leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Shinzo Abe (C) makes an appearance before the media at a news conference following a victory in the upper house elections by his ruling coalition, at the LDP headquarters
    Japan's Prime Minister and the leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Shinzo Abe (C) makes an appearance before the media at a news conference following a victory in the upper house elections by his ruling coalition, at the LDP headquarters
    Daniel Schearf
    The ruling coalition of Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has won control of both houses of parliament, ending years of political deadlock.

    Japan's Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, the New Komeito party, won 76 of the 121 contested seats in the upper house.  That gives Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition 135 of the 242 seats in the upper chamber.

    It is the first time in six years the LDP has a comfortable majority over both houses, raising hopes Abe has the political backing to reform the ailing economy.

    Speaking at his party headquarters, Prime Minister Abe warned they would face a backlash if party politicians retreated from reform.  

    He says they must further speed up the pace of their policies.  If they return to the old LDP, that would ignore public opinion or would look to run away from reforms, he says, then they will lose the public's support.

    The LDP lost control of Japan's parliament in a 2007 election defeat when Abe was last prime minister.  He returned as leader last December after an election victory in the lower house.  

    Since then, he won praise for the fiscal stimulus policy known as “Abenomics" that lowers interest rates, and increases money supply and government spending.  The policy also includes structural reforms, such as deregulation of markets and breaking up monopolies.  

    But Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University in Japan, says taking on some big businesses who back the LDP will be more difficult to implement.

    “The problem is that those vested interests are very well represented in Mr. Abe's own LDP party," he said. "And, now that the pressure is off, they won big, the chances are they are going to become a bit more complacent about reform.  And, they are more likely to defend the vested interests that put them into office.  And so, I think one of the big challenges Abe faces is maintaining discipline within the ranks of his own party.”

    Many in Japan are also concerned that Abe will push a nationalist agenda, perhaps at the expense of focusing on the economy.

    The prime minister is emphasizing the need to protect island territory Japan disputes with China and South Korea.  The calls for protecting territorial claims have raised tensions between Japan and its neighbors and worries it could lead to conflict.

    Kingston says one reason Abe lost public support from 2006 was his emphasis on nationalist ideology.  Unfortunately, he says, although Abe now has the political freedom to try to tone down regional tensions, the Japanese leader appears to be holding firm.

    “In fact, after his election victory he is saying, you know, that Japan needs to be a country that protects its territory.  So, [it]does not sound like he is offering the 'olive branch' there.  And, I think that this is worrying, not only to people in the region, I also think Washington is very concerned that Abe may be a tad too nationalistic and a little bit too provocative,” he said.

    More controversially, Abe has made numerous comments playing-down Japan's World War II aggression and atrocities.

    His government is also considering the idea of re-writing Japan's pacifist constitution, raising further hackles from neighbors who suffered during the war.

    You May Like

    Ethiopia's Anti-terrorism Law: Security or Silencing Dissent?

    Yonatan Tesfaye was detained in December 2015 on charges under Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Proclamation; eleven statements from his Facebook page were used as evidence

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Pie from: Japan
    July 23, 2013 8:32 AM
    What a shameless opinion this is! Japan could successfully recover from the destruction after WWII and became a member of developed countries again quickly. Compared to Japan's revitalization, S. Korea and China were still poor because of their political failures at that time, so Japan kindly aided a lot of money for their people without any returns. After their recovery, however, they only learned how to accuse Japan and how to squeeze money from Japan. So, S. Korea and China just provoke and say "Give more money!" Japan is neither a cash-dispenser nor a welfare for them, any more.

    by: oldlamb from: Guangzhou
    July 23, 2013 4:04 AM
    As a US' security gard in Asia,Japan has to represent the sake of his boss.Now,America is returning to Asia-Parcific.Becauce of the spending-cut, American money is so limited that Japan was asked to pay the bill of the conspiracy.As it stands,Japan has raised their military spending since this year, No doubt,Japan will pay more In the following couple years.It's easy way for Abe to make money that Obama's government and Abe's government work together to spur Japanese nationalism. Abe has won control of both houses of parliament,it is in sign of that USA has given de facto recognition to Abe. I don’t think Washington concerned that Abe may be too nationalistic and a little bit too provocative.but it is not fair trade for Japan,as a watch dog,not only work for his boss,but also pay the bill for his boss.

    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    July 22, 2013 5:46 PM
    US should be glad Abe won decisive votes. Abe's conservative position at the territorial disputes is nothing but the same as what China and Korea have. It is important to express clearly what shoul be expressed especially in deplomatic stages. Ambiguity helps no one understand opposition's standpoints. This ambiguity of Japanese politicians has been condemned especialyy by US. At his point, Abe's claims are clear to everybody.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora