Japan’s ruling party wins big in polls after Shinzo Abe assassination

Japan’s ruling party and its coalition partner secured a major victory in Sunday’s parliamentary elections imbued with meaning following the assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe amid uncertainty over his loss. How his cool might affect party unity.

The Liberal Democrats and junior coalition partner Komeito raised their combined share in the 248-seat chamber to 146 – well ahead of the majority – in the election of half the seats in the less powerful upper house.

With this boost, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will rule without interruption until elections scheduled for 2025.

That would allow Kishida to work on long-term policies such as national security, his “new capitalism” economic policy, but still vague, and his party’s long-cherished goal of Amendment to the post-war pacifist constitution drafted by the US.

A proposed rule change is now a possibility. With the help of two opposition parties supporting the charter change, the governing bloc now has a two-thirds majority in the room needed to propose an amendment, making it a realistic possibility. Management has secured support in the other room.

Voters in Japan were headed to the polls on Sunday for an upper house election, reeling from the death of former prime minister Shinzo Abe, who was shot dead during the election campaign on Friday. (Toru Hanai / Bloomberg / Getty Images)

Kishida welcomed the big victory but did not smile, as Abe was lost and the difficult task of unifying his party without him. In an interview with the media late on Sunday, Kishida reiterated: “Party unity is more important than anything else.”

He said countermeasures to COVID-19, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rising prices would be his priorities. He said he would also persistently push for strengthening Japan’s national security as well as amending the constitution.

Kishida and senior party lawmakers observed a moment of silence by Abe at the party’s constituency headquarters before placing on the whiteboard victory ribbons next to the names of the candidates who won the seats. their.

Abe, 67, was shot while giving a campaign speech in the western city of Nara on Friday and died of massive blood loss. He was the longest-serving political leader in Japan for two terms, and although he stepped down in 2020 he was deeply influential in the LDP while leading its largest faction, the Seiwakai.

“This could be a turning point” for the LDP over its divisive policies on gender equality, same-sex marriage and other issues faced by people, said Mitsuru Fukuda, a professor of crisis management at Nihon. radically pro-Abe with patriarchal family values. University.

Election after assassination

Japan’s current diplomatic and security stance is unlikely to be shaken as Abe has made fundamental changes. His extreme nationalist views and pragmatic policies have made him a divisive figure for many, including in North Korea and China.

In the wake of the assassination, Sunday’s vote took on new meaning, with all of Japan’s political leaders stressing the importance of free speech and defending democracy against violent acts. violence.

Abe’s killing may have led to the yes votes. Voter turnout on Sunday was around 52%, up about 3 points from 48.8% previously in 2019.

Akie Abe, the widow of Shinzo Abe, rides in a car carrying Abe’s body to a nighttime prayer service at a shrine in Tokyo on Monday. (Kim Kyung-Hoon / Reuters)

“The fact that we made the election is very meaningful,” Kishida said on Sunday. “Our efforts to defend democracy continue.”

On the final day of Saturday’s election campaign, party leaders avoided clashing with fists and other friendly gestures in close contact with the public – a sign of tightening security. security after the assassination of Abe during an election campaign.

Abe’s body was brought back to his home in Tokyo’s upscale Shibuya, where many mourners, including Kishida and senior party officials, paid their respects. His awakening and funeral are expected in the coming days.

Security Review

On Sunday, the suspect charged with the murder was referred to the local prosecutor’s office for further investigation, and a top regional police official acknowledged security loopholes that could have allowed the gunman. approached Abe and fired a homemade gun at him.

According to police, the suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, told investigators that he acted because of Abe’s rumored connection to an organization he resented, but had no issue with the main point of view. of former leaders. The man hated a religious group his mother was obsessed with and that bankrupted the family business, according to media reports, including some who identified the group as the Orthodox Church. best.

Nara Prefectural Police Chief Tomoaki Onizuka said on Saturday that the security issues were undeniable, that he took the shootings seriously and would review security procedures.

VIEW | Former Japanese Prime Minister was assassinated at a campaign rally:

Shinzo Abe, former Prime Minister of Japan, assassinated

A man is in custody and people across Japan are in mourning, after former prime minister Shinzo Abe was shot dead Friday morning while giving a campaign speech.

Abe resigned two years ago, blaming a relapse of ulcerative colitis he’s had since he was a teenager. He said he regretted leaving many of his goals unfinished, including amending Japan’s war-renunciation constitution. While some conservatives see the post-World War II charter as an insult, the general public is more supportive of the document.

Abe was prepared to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, former prime minister Nobusuke Kishi. His political rhetoric has often focused on making Japan a “normal” and “beautiful” country with a stronger military through a security alliance with the United States and a greater role in foreign affairs. international problem.

He became Japan’s youngest prime minister in 2006, at the age of 52. But his first period of nationalism abruptly ended a year later, also because of his health, which changed six years. annual leadership.

He returned to power in 2012, vowing to revive the country and lift the economy out of a wretched deflationary slump with his “Abenomics” formula, which combines fiscal stimulus, monetary easing and structural reform. He won six national elections and built a firm grip on power.

Japan is known for its strict gun laws. With a population of 125 million, it has just 21 gun-related criminal cases in 2020, according to the government’s latest crime report. However, a number of recent attacks involving the use of consumer goods such as gasoline, experts say, show an increased risk of ordinary people being embroiled in mass attacks. .

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