TOKYO – After leading his conservative party to a landslide victory that will bring it back to power after a three-year hiatus, Shinzo Abe today stressed that the road ahead will not be easy as he tries to revive Japan’s sputtering economy and bolster its national security amid deteriorating relations with China.
The Liberal Democratic Party, which led Japan for most of the post-World War II era until it was dumped as the economy fizzled in 2009, won 294 seats in the 480-seat lower house of parliament in Sunday’s nationwide elections, according to media reports.
With the elections over, a vote among members of parliament to install the new prime minister is expected as soon as Dec. 25. Abe, who was prime minister from 2006-’07, is almost certain to win that vote because the LDP now holds the majority in the lower house.
“We won more seats than even we expected,” Abe, 58, said today. “We have a very heavy responsibility.”
Outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced his resignation late Sunday, calling the election results “severe” and acknowledging his party failed to live up to the nation’s high expectations.
Economic issues, including plans to raise taxes and other measures to bolster Japan’s underperforming economy, were the top concerns among voters.
Abe, who would be Japan’s seventh prime minister in 6 1/2 years, will likely push for increased public works spending and lobby for stronger moves by the central bank to break Japan out of its deflationary trap.
Stock prices soared this morning to their highest level in more than eight months, reflecting hopes that the LDP will be more effective in its economic policies than the Democrats were.