Japanese PM Shinzo Abe swept to resounding victory in snap election

Vastavam web:  Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe swept to a resounding victory in a snap election today, winning a mandate to harden his already hawkish stance on North Korea and re-energise the world’s number-three economy.Abe’s conservative coalition was on track to win 311 seats in the 465-seat parliament, according to a projection published by private broadcaster TBS, putting the blue-blooded nationalist on course to become Japan’s longest-serving leader.Abe was heading for a “landslide win”, the top-selling Yomiuri daily said on its website, as the premier’s gamble to hold a snap election appeared to be paying off.

But it was unclear in the immediate aftermath of the vote whether Abe’s coalition would retain its two-thirds “supermajority,” requiring 310 seats, as some media had it falling just short.A “supermajority” would allow Abe to propose changes to pacifist Japan’s US-imposed constitution that forces it to renounce war and effectively limits its military to a self- defence role.Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) benefited from a weak and splintered opposition, with the two main parties facing him created only a matter of weeks ago.

Support for the Party of Hope founded by popular Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike fizzled after an initial blaze of publicity and it was on track to win around 50 seats, the TBS projection suggested.Speaking from Paris where she was attending an event in her capacity as leader of the world’s biggest city, a sullen- faced Koike told public broadcaster NHK she feared a “very severe result”.The short 12-day campaign was dominated by the economy and the global crisis over North Korea, which has threatened to “sink” Japan into the sea and has traded barbs with US President Donald Trump.

Nationalist Abe stuck to a hardline stance throughout, stressing that Japan “would not waver” in the face of an increasingly belligerent regime in Pyongyang.Despite the sabre-rattling from North Korea, many voters said reviving the once-mighty Japanese economy was the top priority, with Abe’s trademark “Abenomics” growth policy failing to trickle down to the general public.Although voters turned out in their millions to back Abe, support for the 63-year-old is lukewarm and surveys showed his decision to call a snap election a year earlier than expected was unpopular.

Voter Etsuko Nakajima, 84, told AFP: “I totally oppose the current government. Morals collapsed. I’m afraid this country will be broken.”In the end the 65-year-old former TV presenter was not even in Japan on election day.”I thought that I would vote for the Party of Hope if it’s strong enough to beat the Abe administration. But the party has been in confusion  I’m quite disappointed,” said 80-year-old pensioner Kumiko Fujimori.The campaign was marked by a near-constant drizzle in large parts of the country and rallies frequently took place under shelter and a sea of umbrellas.