Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may look to be on course to become a rare long-lasting leader, and has another huge election win under his belt, but his position is far more fragile than at first glance. His mandate has been tarnished by a low turnout and his policies are under fire.
“My ‘Abenomics’ policies are still only half-way done. I am aware that there are still a lot of people who still do not feel the benefits (of my policies). But it’s my duty to bring about these policies to those very people, and I believe this election also voiced that clearly,” he said in his victory speech.
Abe claims the result is “the voice of the people saying move forward with Abenomics”, adding it is popular endorsement for “the only path”.
“They need to win people’s trust and get some actual results out of their policies. They need to work on the country’s economy and turn it around,” said one voter .
“It’s meaningless. It’s not a proper election after all. Instead of ‘Abenomics’, we all call it ‘Assnomics’. This is the worst result,” said another clearly dissatisfied citizen.
Abe has been trying to fight deflation and low consumption by releasing loads of money into the system while raising taxes so the government can pay off its huge debt, an approach with obvious pitfalls, and which resulted in Japan going into recession in Q3.
“The good Abe, people believe, is the one that focuses on reviving the economy. That’s fine. Bad Abe is Abe who has a fire in his belly about his ideological agenda of constitutional revision and historical revision, and this is going to be problematic,” says the Director of Asian Studies at Temple University, Japan Campus, Jeff Kingston.
The opposition is currently in disarray and cannot mount a serious challenge, so Abe’s only serious problems may come from members of his coalition chafing at the slow rate of progress.