Abe re-elected LDP president, vows economic growth
Updated: 2015-09-08 21:37
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) raises his fist as he shouts slogans with his party lawmakers during a kickoff ceremony for the party chief election in Tokyo, in this photo taken by Kyodo September 8, 2015.[Photo/Agencies]
TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was re-elected as president of the Liberal Democratic Party on Tuesday, in what was largely a one-horse-race as Abe garnered the support of all the ruling party's main seven factions.
The only other would-be contestant was Seiko Noda, an LDP lawmaker and former chairwoman of the LDP's General Council, who planned to run against Abe, but couldn't secure the minimum requirement of 20 Diet members required to back her to run for the party's presidency.
The win will see Abe head the party for three more years through to the end of September 2018, with Abe announcing his plans for the next three years following the declaration of his victory Tuesday, which were broadly centered around bolstering Japan's economy and allowing more public discourse and debate on his plans to revise the Constitution.
At a press gathering following his victory, Abe said he now planned to bring to full fruition his economic blend of strategies dubbed "Abenomics" which thus far have failed to achieve the desired results, since an unpopular tax hike last April plunged the nation into recession and the latest technical indicators suggest that business investment and private consumption has yet to recover after the hike.
"With Abenomics being halfway along the road, I would like to fulfill my responsibility by producing results," the prime minister said, adding that he would do his utmost to ensure that the economic recovery was spread evenly across the country and felt by all.
Abe also pledged to ensure that revitalization efforts continued in areas most devastated by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, while noting there had been an uptick in the number of jobs and wage levels in a prepared pamphlet.
At the end of the prepared material Abe said that there was a need for more public discourse and debate on the thorny issue of revising the nation's Constitution. In recent days and weeks, Abe and his administration's support rate have plummeted to the lowest since he assumed office in December 2012, because the public feel they have not received adequate information on or explanations for the prime minister steamrolling controversial security legislation through the lower house, which, if enacted, will broaden the scope of Japan's Self-Defense Forces to take part in deployments overseas and closer to home and allow the forces to exercise the right to collective self-defense.
Abe's ardent push to normalize Japan's military has sparked hundreds of protests across the country, with almost daily protests around the National Diet building in central Tokyo, which have seen more than 100,000 gather on some occasions to demonstrate the security legislation and the hollowing out of the nation's decades-held pacifist Constitution and Article 9 therein which denounces war, the use of force to settle disputes and the maintaining of an army, navy or air force.
But Abe's uncontested victory Tuesday, has played into the hands of the ruling camp, bolstered by the unwavering support of the LDP's factions associated with the party's heavyweights including LDP Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki and Shigeru Ishiba who is minister for regional revitalization, as the ruling bloc were keen to have Abe win an easy victory and go straight on to focus on the latter stages of the deliberations in the upper house over his war bills.
Abe's administration is eyeing having the unpopular security bills passed through Japan's upper house of parliament, where the LDP also hold a majority, by September 18, thereafter party sources said the prime minister's agenda involves attending the United Nations General Assembly session at the end of September, followed by overseeing his own Cabinet and executive reshuffle in early October.
Abe's next term as the ruling party president through September 2018, will bring his total reign to six years, as he was first elected to the post in September 2012 and can't be re-elected for a third term.
Abe is the first LDP president to be re-elected without a contest since former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto won re- election in 1997.