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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs