What you need to know about Japan's snap election

What you need to know about Japan's snap election

Japanese will get a chance to pronounce their judgement on "Abenomics" - the growth policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe - at a general election on Sunday.

In the absence of a strong challenge from the opposition, the poll is likely to return Mr Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party to power.

Here's what you should know about the election:


a. "Abenomics" economic growth policies

Mr Abe's three-pronged formula to erase deflation and boost the economy works through loose monetary policies, government spending and structural reforms. Their efficacy is, however, open to debate as the economy has slipped into recession again.

b. Sales tax hike from the current 8 per cent to 10 per cent

The Abe administration has postponed this rate hike to April 2017 as the economy has not rebounded after the April 2014 hike from the original 5 per cent to 8 per cent.

Although officials say the second hike is necessary to help rein in Japan's huge public debt, Japanese consumers would rather that there be no hike.

c. Restarting of nuclear reactors

After the March 11, 2011 quake and tsunami disaster, all of Japan's nuclear power reactors have become idle. The Abe administration is keen to restart as many of the 48 nuclear reactors as possible as part of a plan to revive the economy. But most Japanese are opposed to this because of safety concern.

d. Collective self-defence

Japan's Self Defence Force (SDF) has been officially pacifist since its establishment after World War II. But Mr Abe is keen to revise a constitutional interpretation to give the SDF the right to engage in collective self-defence together with the militaries of other states. If he returns to power, this issue could be near the top of his agenda.

e. Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks

The TPP, described as one of the most ambitious free trade agreements ever attempted, is a proposed deal currently being negotiated among 12 countries - Japan, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, United States, Singapore and Vietnam. It is expected to substantially reduce tariffs - and even eliminate them in some cases - and help open up trade in goods and services.

Japanese companies believe that the TPP trade talks would open the door to more trade and investment opportunities. But Japanese farmers are afraid that they will not be able to compete against cheap farm imports if tariffs are eliminated.

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