Here’s the PM after winning his new mandate:
“I think the people have shown that they believe in us,” Abe said in an interview with public broadcaster NHK after the LDP and its junior coalition partner, New Komeito, won yesterday’s upper house vote. “We are really the only choice.”
Abe’s triumph breaks a deadlock in the Diet and may end the leadership shuffle that has given the country a rotating cast of prime ministers for much of the past seven years. It also threatens to usher in a more militaristic Japan, as well as a revitalized manufacturing base — buoyed by hyper-cheap government money — that has some of its critics and trading partners more than a little worried.
“Abe himself, but also his entourage, have stayed on message so far not in order to just do economics, but also to push their nationalistic agenda,” says political science professor Koichi Nakano of Sophia University. “He’s a hardcore nationalist with a very jarring, revisionist view of history.”
Japan hasn’t been seriously de-militarized in decades. It military might be small, but it’s also quite potent. That said, Japan won’t be taking over Manchuria any time soon, nor storming the beaches of Luzon.
Fact is, a strong Japan is a healthy Japan — and one we can trust as a partner, rather than as a military-welfare cheat. Does Abe have some strange notions? Apparently. But this isn’t the 1930s, no matter how much he might like to turn back the clock.