Thursday, September 28, 2017

Japan Calls Snap Election in Korean Crisis

Shinzo Abe, given good marks for handling the North Korean crisis and building a relationship with Donald Trump, has called a snap election one year earlier than required. Abe has been moving up in recent polls after a drop due to corruption scandals affecting him and his wife (79% of public say they are unhappy with government’s explanation of the scandal in new Kyodo News poll).

With his recent improvement in the polls, he wants to hold the election before new rivals and controversies erupt. The latest polls show his party (LDP) in the lead, but with many people undecided.

Abe was the first world leader to establish a relationship with President Trump at a high-profile visit to Mar-a-Lago in February. It has helped keep him in the limelight at subsequent meetings of world leaders. In office five years, Abe is hoping the North Korean missile threat and his quick actions with Trump will give him momentum to hold a majority for another term and refresh his mandate.

Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo
and President Donald Trump dine at Mar-a-Lago
A new political movement based around the popular governor of Tokyo may be Abe’s and the LDP’s main threat. Yuriko Koike could be the center pole in a new national party (Party of Hope). Like many mature democracies, old center parties are vulnerable.

A few other factors effecting the election:
  • The economy has improved after years of stagnation
  • The Emperor will abdicate soon, an important cultural event
  • Changing the constitution to modify the pacifist clause is still controversial without a clear mandate to change
  • There are 475 seats lower house (Diet) has power. LDP-Komeito bloc has 316 (66%). Election scheduled for October 22.
Read CNN: Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo calls snap election

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