Voters endorse Abe, but hard work lies ahead

Voters endorse Abe, but hard work lies ahead

What led to the sweeping victory for the Liberal Democratic Party? Voters have given a high rating to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's efforts to stabilize this nation's politics and produce tangible results. It is a stamp of approval for the prime minister and shows voters' high expectations for his policies.

The LDP's major victory is a result of Abe's shrewd tactic of dissolving the House of Representatives for a general election at a time when opposition parties were least prepared to fight electoral battles. However, this triumph will not necessarily ensure smooth sailing for the prime minister to manage his administration. Challenges await in the economic and diplomatic fields.

The stringent situation facing this nation is symbolized by the fact that Abe was forced to postpone an additional hike in the consumption tax by 18 months after his Abenomics policies lost steam, fueling uncertainty over the domestic economy.

Prolonged deflation has continued to batter local economies. The administration must put the economy on a path to recovery with carefully crafted economic policies and bold reform measures, at a time when the nation is riddled with massive fiscal deficits.

On the diplomatic front, Japan faces a powerful China, which leaves Japan with one option: strengthening the Japan-US alliance.

In both areas, Abe's determination and ability to strike a balance will be tested.

Abe adopted his election slogan from former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's catchphrase, "There is no alternative." She swept her Conservative Party to victory in three general elections and revitalized the British economy as a result.

Former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone wrote, "I wonder if there is any other way than this," according to "The History of the Nakasone Cabinet," when the lower house election coincided with the House of Councillors poll in 1986, handing a major victory to the LDP.

During five years in office, Nakasone carried out a series of reform measures. He wrote in his book "Jiseiroku" (Records of self-reflection) that he "was able to push forward political challenges that had been regarded as impossible to achieve, driven by my sincere desire to achieve results."

Abe must buckle down and deal with myriad challenges simultaneously, and spell out how he aims to achieve his goals.

Many voters are watching if the LDP - the only powerful party in the nation's political landscape - will move its political agenda forward with thorough consideration. If it fails to live up to their expectations, the LDP will face a backlash in the next national election.

The Democratic Party of Japan did not field enough candidates to seize power in this election, showing it has failed to reconstruct itself as a party capable of taking the reins of government.

The so-called third pole political parties, including the Japan Innovation Party, failed to win the support of many voters after their high-profile splits and reorganizations. These feckless opposition parties are one reason the election was subdued, with a low voter turnout. They should expedite efforts to put themselves back on their feet.

How should we enhance the nation's strength when the birthrate is declining? What roles should Japan play in the international community?

We don't have immediate answers to these questions. The ruling and opposition parties must therefore compete to devise good policies and give them concrete form one by one.

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