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Upper House poll results put onus on Abe to build a consensus

12 3 0

For Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the word “Idoshi” (the Year of the Boar according to the Chinese zodiac) has an ominous ring to it.

In the previous Idoshi 12 years ago, when both unified local elections and the Upper House election were held as in this and any other year of the Boar, Abe, who was then serving his first tenure as prime minister, suffered a devastating defeat in the chamber’s poll that caused the coalition of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito to lose a majority to the opposition camp.

The electoral pasting forced him to resign just after one year of holding the top office.

The July 21 Upper House election, however, allowed Abe to wipe out the stain of the defeat in 2007.

The LDP-Komeito alliance won more than half the seats that were contested. But the combined seats taken by the parties favoring Abe’s initiative to amend the Constitution--the LDP, Komeito and opposition Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party)--fell short of retaining the two-thirds majority needed in the Upper House to initiate an amendment.

The election results indicate Abe’s call for “political stability” has won public support. But that should not obscure the Abe administration’s arrogance and lax discipline, a serious and glaringly obvious problem caused by the prime minister’s prolonged stay in office supported by his overwhelming political power.

Abe cannot respond to this weighty public mandate unless he injects a dose of healthy tension into his own administration and policymaking, takes the votes of opposition parties seriously and makes sincere efforts to realize consensus-oriented politics.


The ruling camp’s election strategy seemed to be focused on avoiding debate on sensitive policy issues at the Diet as much as possible to prevent opposition parties from scoring political points while attracting public attention by holding one diplomatic summit after another.The Budget Committees of both houses, the Diet bodies that should play the leading role in keeping watch on the government, did not hold a single meeting since April. The committees ignored both opposition requests and........

© The Asahi Shimbun