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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Re-elected without Vote as President of the Liberal Democratic Party

post date : 2015.10.05

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Re-elected without Vote as President of the

Liberal Democratic Party

Vol. 11 October 5, 2015


Asahi: “Re-elected Abe must move closer to the will of the people”

Sankei: “Speed up Japan’s recovery”

Nikkei: “Recognize the importance of the next three years”

Mainichi: “Abe should not be arrogant after re-election as LDP leader”

Yomiuri: “Abe must place top priority on revitalizing economy”


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was re-elected as president of the Liberal Democratic Party without a vote on September 8.


Seiko Noda, former chairman of the LDP General Council who until the last minute was seeking to run in the election, failed to secure the endorsement of her candidacy from 20 Diet members from the party—the minimum number required for fielding a candidacy.


All five national dailies discussed the LDP presidential election in their editorials on September 9.


The Yomiuri Shimbun welcomed the prime minister’s re-election, and The Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) and The Sankei Shimbun were relatively positive about it as well, while The Asahi Shimbun and The Mainichi Shimbun criticized how Abe’s victory was secured. For example, The Asahi said: “Her attempt to secure recommendations from 20 lawmakers was hindered by certain party factions and individuals close to the prime minister who did not want her bid for the presidency to negatively affect the progress of Diet deliberations on the controversial national security bills.”


■ Re-election without vote

The Yomiuri touched on Abe’s achievements in office, saying: “After leading the party to its third consecutive victory in national elections, Abe has built the current political structure that can only be described as a single dominant party—the LDP—and many weak ones. He has also achieved results both in domestic politics and foreign diplomacy.” The newspaper then concluded, “All of the party’s seven factions supported Abe. This is a common sense decision.”

Likewise, The Nikkei said: “(Abe’s candidacy) was endorsed by all seven factions within the LDP.... Abe’s victory was, in effect, a result of the endorsement from the entire party.” However, the paper also pointed out that “A victory won without criticism is surprisingly weak when faced with adversity ... The prime minister must be aware of how important the next three years are for Japan.”


The Sankei said regarding this new three year term “It was a matter of course for the prime minister to win the re-election,” and stated clearly that “The prime minister’s re-election without a vote does not mean that the LDP has given the government carte blanche when instituting policies.”


In contrast, The Asahi and The Mainichi were constant in their criticism of Abe’s re-election without a vote.


Referring to “hindrance” Noda experienced in her bid to secure 20 Diet members who would endorse her candidacy, The Asahi said “we are deeply apprehensive of the current LDP administration that obviously believes in rejecting any controversy to get things done smoothly.”


Similarly, The Mainichi said “... bids by his rivals for leadership of the LDP were suppressed as the Diet is deliberating the controversial security-related bills. The confidence that LDP members gave Abe without suitable discussion in reality did not bolster his grip on power.” The daily’s appraisal was harsh: “The confidence that Prime Minister Abe won while suppressing debate is fragile. He must not misunderstand the meaning of his re-election without a contest, or be arrogant.”


■ Abe’s challenges

The editorials spelled out challenges that should be tackled by the administration of Abe, who obtained another three-year term through September 2018 at the helm of the ruling party.


The Asahi is urging Abe to “bridge the divide between his stance and the will of the people.”


“With the national security legislation in particular, public opposition has grown in leaps and bounds as Diet deliberations continue,” The Asahi said. “If Abe resorts to strength in numbers to steamroll the bills through the Diet, the gap between the administration’s intent and what the public wants will only widen further.”


The Mainichi also said: “Prime Minister Abe, who has been re-elected leader of the governing party, should squarely face the reality of defects with the security bills being exposed. The Abe administration’s basic policies, including the deadlocked growth strategy as part of Abenomics, are also being called into question.”


“The prime minister should maintain his tense relations with the LDP and spur active debate within the party in order to examine problems involving his government’s policy measures and avoid making mistakes in the order of policy priorities,” The Mainichi added.


On the other hand, The Yomiuri, The Nikkei and The Sankei cited economic revitalization as the most important task for the administration.


“Abe’s first priority should be to completely and thoroughly bail the nation out of its protracted period of deflation and revitalize the economy,” The Yomiuri said. “While winning wider support from the public, his administration should tackle difficult, mid- and long-term challenges and achieve results, including fiscal reconstruction, ways to deal with a declining population and a constitutional amendment.”


The Nikkei also said “Japan’s task of foremost importance, needless to say, is the revitalization of the Japanese economy.”


“The focal point of the Abenomics economic package is how it can restore the nation’s fiscal health—currently the worst among the advanced nations—while enhancing Japan’s potential growth rate through structural reform,” The Nikkei said.


The Sankei also identified challenges the Abe administration is now facing. “At stake is how to find a breakthrough in a nation still suffering from the aftereffects of the prolonged deflation.... It is an urgent task to identify which elements of Abenomics should be amended and implement specific measures to strengthen the economic package.”


In addition to economic revitalization, each paper also mentioned diplomatic and political issues.


In comments on improving relations with China and South Korea, The Yomiuri was approving: “China and South Korea have been restrained in criticizing the statement issued in August by the prime minister to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II—the latest statement primarily followed the historical perceptions expressed by successive cabinets. The environment is becoming better for mending ties with these two countries.” The paper also mentioned that “Abe may be well-advised to strategically use his new three-year term as LDP president to take on such difficult tasks as negotiations with Russia over the northern territories and the dispute over North Korea’s abduction of Japanese nationals.”


The Nikkei also stated that “Discussions with neighboring countries are important,” and suggested “The trilateral talks expected to take place this month between Japan, the USA, and South Korea should be used as an opportunity, as Abe’s visit to China this month did not happen and he has yet to have a summit meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye.”


The Sankei, discussing “the constitutional reforms that the prime minister is interested in as a political issue,” wrote “We would like the prime minister to approach these reforms with a sense of mission.... The prime minister should clarify the reform process and give the party direction, such as working to acquire during the election next summer the two-thirds of seats in the House of Councillors necessary to propose constitutional reforms.”


*English translations of The Yomiuri, The Asahi and The Mainichi are from The Japan News, The Asia & Japan Watch and The Mainichi, respectively. Those for The Nikkei and The Sankei are provisional. The content of this page was made by the Foreign Press Center Japan and does not reflect the opinion of the Japanese Government or any other organization.



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