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United Daily News: Can Shinzo Abe lead Japan out of slump?

2012/12/18 17:17:56

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won Japan's parliamentary election Sunday under the leadership of Shinzo Abe, who resigned as prime minister in 2007 following a string of gaffes in his Cabinet.

The outcome demonstrates that Japanese people, faced with an ailing country, had no better choice. Their only purpose was to oust the more incompetent Democratic Party of Japan.

The LDP's victory in the election marked a shift in Japan's political landscape toward the right, which may not be a good sign for regional politics. During the run-up to the election, Abe issued a hawkish campaign platform that included proposals such as amending the constitution to expand the Japan Self-Defense Forces and posting regular personnel on the Diaoyutai Islands.

The LDP's long-time ally, the New Komeito, has said it does not support the proposed constitutional reform. If the LDP eventually chooses to cooperate with the far-right Japan Restoration Party led by Shintaro Ishihara, it very likely will raise a big storm in East Asia and even the whole world. In this scenario, voters' hope for the LDP to lead Japan out of its persistent economic slump would again be dashed.

The choice of Abe, who is expected to take over as the next prime minister, will affect the subsequent fate of his country.

Expanding Japan's military presence might temporarily provide a sense of pride the Japanese people long for, but such a move could incite strong aversion from people in neighboring countries and result in Japan's isolation.

If Abe cannot adopt a pragmatic approach, Japan will have difficulty getting out of the slump and regaining pride. (Editorial abstract -- Dec. 18, 2012)

(By Y.F. Low)