Japan's LDP surges back to power | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 17, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 17, 2012

Japan's LDP surges back to power

Eyes two-thirds majority with ally


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Japan's conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) surged back to power in an election yesterday just three years after a devastating defeat, giving ex-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a chance to push his hawkish security agenda and radical economic recipe.
An LDP win will usher in a government committed to a tough stance in a territorial row with China, a pro-nuclear energy policy despite last year's Fukushima disaster and a potentially risky prescription for hyper-easy monetary policy and big fiscal spending to beat deflation and tame a strong yen.
Exit polls by television broadcasters showed the LDP winning nearly 300 seats in parliament's powerful 480-member lower house, while its ally, the small New Komeito party, looked set to win about 30 seats.
That would give the two parties the two-thirds majority needed to over-rule parliament's upper house, where they lack a majority and which can block bills, which would help to break a policy deadlock that has plagued the world's third biggest economy since 2007.
"We need to overcome the crisis Japan is undergoing. We have promised to pull Japan out of deflation and correct a strong yen. The situation is severe, but we need to do this," Abe said on live TV. "The same goes for national security and diplomacy."
Parliament is expected to vote Abe in as prime minister on December 26.
Top executives of the LDP and the New Komeito confirmed that they would form a coalition. "The basis, of course, is a coalition between the LDP and the New Komeito. But if there's room to cooperate with Japan Restoration Party, we need to do so," said LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba, referring to a new, right-leaning party that was set to pick up about 46 seats.
Exit polls showed Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) winning only 65 seats, just over a fifth of its tally in 2009.
Noda yesterday conceded defeat in the general election and said he was stepping down as leader from his humbled governing party.
"I will resign as the head of the Democratic Party of Japan because I take this result seriously," he told a press conference.
Many voters had said the DPJ failed to meet election pledges as it struggled to govern and cope with last year's huge earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, and then pushed through an unpopular sales tax increase with LDP help.
Japan's economy has been stuck in the doldrums for decades, its population ageing fast and big corporate brands faltering, making "Japan Inc" a synonym for decline.
LDP leader Abe, 58, who quit as premier in 2007 citing ill health after a troubled year in office, has been talking tough in a row with China over uninhabited isles in the East China Sea, although some experts say he may temper his hard line with pragmatism once in office.
The soft-spoken grandson of a prime minister, who would become Japan's seventh premier in six years, Abe also wants to loosen the limits of a 1947 pacifist constitution on the military, so Japan can play a bigger global security role.

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