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Tipsheet

Shinzo Abe's Political Party Wins a Supermajority and It May Help Usher in One of His Longtime Goals

AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, Pool

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s assassination, just days before parliamentary elections, appears to have helped boost voter turnout in the country, leading to a massive win for his Liberal Democratic Party.

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Held two days after the former PM was gunned down at a campaign event, the election gave the LDP and its coalition partners a decisive victory after winning 87 seats, when only 70 were needed to form a supermajority.

Sunday’s election saw voter turnout jump to 52 percent, a 3 percent increase from 2019.

The supermajority could now help realize a longtime goal of Abe’s—reforming Japan’s pacifist Constitution.

The Liberal Democrats and their coalition partners gained enough seats in Sunday’s election to form a crucial two-thirds supermajority. They can now amend a clause in the Constitution, imposed by postwar American occupiers, that renounces war. That long-held goal would open the door for Japan to become a military power, capable of global leadership. (NYT)

But Japan's current prime minister, Fumio Kishida, may face an uphill battle due to voters' overwhelming concern with kitchen table issues at the moment.

Even with the supermajority, much stands in the way of the plan — not least that it has long been unpopular with the Japanese public. And with inflation pressures mounting, the yen weakening and coronavirus infections again on the rise, changing the Constitution could be a harder sell than ever.

With such fundamental concerns, “constitutional revision is a kind of luxury good,” said Tobias Harris, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress who oversees work on Asia.

“Given that attention being spent on constitutional revision is attention not being paid to other stuff, there is going to be a penalty for it,” Mr. Harris said, “especially when people are so concerned about household issues.” (NYT)

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Still, Kishida will forge ahead. 

“I have the responsibility to take over the ideas of former Prime Minister Abe,” the prime minister told supporters on Saturday.

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