Japanese prime minister puts economy top of agenda

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Japanese prime minister puts economy top of agenda

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The work starts now. That was the message from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after his ruling LDP party and its junior partner’s decisive election result. The victory, which gives the 58-year-old control of both chambers of parliament is seen as a signal for him to press ahead with economic reforms, the so called ‘Abenomics’.

“I think that now is our real start. The thing that people want most across the entire country is a strong economic recovery that they can actually feel,” the prime minister told reporters.

Global financial markets responded positively to Japan’s election result and the prospect of Abe’s policies which include targeting inflation and expanding public investment. Security though is also a concern in the country.

“Even if the economy is good, there is the possibility of increased diplomatic friction with our neighbouring countries and that is what we are most worried about,” said Tokyo resident Noboru Matsuzaki

Tokyo is already involved in territorial rows with Beijing and Seoul over uninhabited islands in the South China Sea. Abe’s victory could also pave the way for a revision of the country’s pacifist constitution and lead to Japan’s military being bolstered.

Analyst Jeffrey Kingston, who is Head of Asian Studies at Temple University, thinks the prime minister should concentrate on economics.

“So the hope is that he continues to focus on the economy. Clearly there is not public support for constitutional revision, there is not public support for upgrading Japan’s defence profile. I think there is public support for efforts towards reconciliation with neighbours, so I think it would be counterproductive to show the world the nationalistic Abe,” Kingston said.

Currently the constitution includes a section which forbids the use of force in international disputes except for self-defence. It is believed the prime minister could also endorse a policy to restart Japan’s nuclear reactors.