Abe seeks hasty recovery from Tokyo election defeat

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to reporters as he arrives at his office in Tokyo, Japan July 3, 2017.
PHOTO: Reuters

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party suffered a historic defeat in Sunday's Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to quickly get the Cabinet and the LDP back on their feet.

"We have to take the election results seriously as a severe scolding of the LDP by the public and profoundly reflect upon this," Abe told reporters at the Prime Minister's Office on Monday morning. "The LDP must make whole-party efforts to restore public confidence in the party by producing results."

The Cabinet's approval rating is declining, and Abe plans to reorganise the government by reshuffling the Cabinet and the LDP leadership.

Referring to the cause of his party's defeat, the prime minister said: "I think the results may reflect the public's strict criticism of the lack of discipline in this administration. We have to take it seriously."

Saying the Cabinet has many challenges to tackle, Abe said, "We have to deeply reflect on what needs to be reflected on, and we should humbly and carefully, but surely, move ahead with what needs to be done," he said.

The comment apparently indicates his intention to boost his administration by steadily implementing policies.

Abe later attended an ad-hoc meeting of LDP executives at the party's headquarters in Tokyo, where he said, "The party must reflect on the results of the election seriously and make united efforts," confirming his policy to gravely accept the election results and make whole-party efforts to restore confidence.

At a liaison meeting of the government and ruling parties held at the Prime Minister's Office on Monday at noon, Abe called on Komeito to enhance close co-operation between the two parties.

"[The government] has proceeded with policies in co-operation with ruling parties through our best efforts for the past 4½ years," he said. "By going back to the original objectives we had when we returned to power, we would like to carefully promote policies."

In response to Abe's comment, Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi said, "The government and the ruling parties should be strongly united to respond to public expectations."

As Komeito co-operated with Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites first group), led by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, ill feeling is said to have been created between the two parties. Therefore, Abe and Yamaguchi apparently tried to reconfirm their unity at the liaison meeting.

Meanwhile, four opposition parties - the Democratic Party, the Japanese Communist Party, the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party - intend to go on the offensive, as they believe the assembly election results are a sign of strong public dissatisfaction with the Abe administration.

"Tokyo residents expressed their strong protest in the Tokyo assembly election against LDP's extremely strong-arm Diet management and the usage of power for its own gain," DP Secretary General Yoshihiko Noda said in criticism of Abe at a press conference on Monday morning.

The four opposition parties are expected to hold a meeting of secretaries general soon to confirm their policies. They plan to urge the ruling bloc to convene an extraordinary Diet session soon and demand Diet deliberations be held out of session.

The opposition parties intend to grill the government over issues related to the Kake Educational Institution's plan to open a new veterinary science department. They also plan to demand that Defence Minister Tomomi Inada be removed from her post for her gaffe involving the Self-Defence Forces.