Japan Begins Countdown to 2017 General Election
October 10th marked the beginning of the twelve day campaign period for Japan's Lower House election. Analysts believe that the ruling party, LDP (Liberal Democratic Party), faces an unusually complicated situation with regrouped opposition forces.
On Sept 27th, Yuriko Koike, the current Governor of Tokyo, formed a new political party named “Party of Hope.” This was only one day before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his intention to dissolve parliament and send the country to the polls.
The Democratic Party split soon after as more than 100 of its conservative leaning members joined the Party of Hope. In turn, the remaining, more liberal members formed the “Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan” led by former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.
The right-leaning LDP, Party of Hope, and Japan Innovation Party have sided together against the left-leaning Constitutional Democrats, Social Democratic Party and Japanese Communist Party. While the conservative parties share their views on security policy and constitutional revisions, they differ in their stances on economic policy.
Prime Minister Abe pledged stability at beginning of his election campaign and guaranteed voters that he would continue to promote the policies of “Abe economy” for Japan’s prosperity. "We should stay unwavering," Abe said. "It is the policies, rather than a boom or slogans, that can open the future."
On the other hand, he also stated he would renew his mandate to tackle the threat of North Korea and Japan’s deteriorating aging problem.
Consensus believes that Abe’s coalition will remain as a third-straight majority in the Lower House, although the Party of Hope and the Constitutional Democratic Party are likely to take some seats away.
According to the Japan Times, Abe said he will resign if the “LDP and its smaller coalition partner Komeito do not win an overall majority with a combined 233 seats.”
The Asahi Shimbun, a widely influential newspaper in Japan, reported that while Abe has set the bar low to remain in power, gaining that minimum number means losing 90 seats from the LDP’s pre-dissolution strength. This would be a heavy blow to Abe’s political career.