Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Japanese Voters Give Boost to 'Abenomics'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Japanese Voters Give Boost to 'Abenomics'

Article excerpt

Voters in Japan have given the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, a mandate to continue with his economic program, after his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its junior coalition partner won a comfortable victory in upper house elections on Sunday.

The result means that the governing coalition will hold majorities in both houses of the country's parliament for the first time in six years, raising hopes of an end to the political deadlock that has seen several prime ministers come and go in quick succession.

In recent years, opposition parties have had control of the upper chamber, enabling them to block or delay legislation in what has become known as a "twisted parliament."

While a low turnout indicated widespread apathy toward the election - in which half of the upper house's 242 seats were contested - LDP officials interpreted the result as an endorsement of Abe's attempts to lift the world's third-biggest economy out of almost two decades of stagnation.

Since becoming prime minister last December, Abe has implemented monetary easing and massive fiscal stimulus, but has yet to explain the third stage of "Abenomics" to address structural problems such as the rapidly ageing population, shrinking workforce, and huge public debt.

"People wanted politics that can make decisions and an administration with a stable grounding, which led to today's result," the LDP's vice president, Masahiko Komura, told public broadcaster NHK. "'Abenomics' is proceeding smoothly and people want us to ensure the benefits reach them too. That feeling was strong."

Japanese media reported that the coalition was projected to win at least 70 of the 121 seats being contested on Sunday. The official result will be announced early Monday.

Nationalist agenda

With no elections due for another three years, Abe is expected to devote more effort to his nationalist "values agenda," even at the risk of raising tensions with China and South Korea. …

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