Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has taken another stride toward realizing his vision for Japan.
After a snap election on Sunday (Oct. 22), Abe’s Liberal Democratic party (LDP) is predicted to win two-thirds of lower parliament seats. That means Abe stands a stronger chance of running for a third term, which would make him the longest running Japanese prime minister since World War II. The vote also increases Abe’s chance of pushing through changes to Japan’s constitution.
The election doesn’t reflect widespread support of Abe, but rather seems to indicate that voters aren’t keen on the alternatives. Here’s what Abe has in store.
A military Japan
Abe’s mandate is to revise the constitution, which requires the support of two-thirds of the upper and lower Diet houses before majority approval from the public.
The current Japanese constitution, enacted in 1947, renounces war completely, making the military potentially unconstitutional. In light of escalating offensives from North Korea, including a ballistic missile flown over Japan last month, Abe has been calling for a revision that would, as he said in May, make it clear that the military is legal.
Even with the LDP victory, it’s not at all a given that Abe would succeed. The article of renunciation is very popular in Japan (Abe is not), and past attempts to revise it have failed.
Sales tax increase
Abe is also calling for a sales tax increase to aid education programs, a part of his “Abenomics” policies aimed at curbing two decades of deflation. Abenomics hasn’t been a smashing success, but it has produced moderate growth over the past five quarters. Abe’s plan is to spend ¥2 trillion (about $17.6 million) on childcare and education.