Shinzo Abe re-elected despite low turnout in Japan polls
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won comfortable re-election Sunday in a snap poll he had billed as a referendum on his economic policies after early success faded into a recession. But a low turnout from unenthusiastic voters beset by a heavy snowfall could cast doubt on the endorsement he will claim for “Abenomics” — his signature plan to fix the country’s flaccid economy.
Broadcasters’ exit polls shortly after voting finished showed his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its junior partner Komeito had swept the ballot, with an unassailable two-thirds majority that will give them the power to override the upper house.
TV Asahi said the pairing had won 333 of the 475 seats, while TBS put the figure at 328. “I have been pushing for Abenomics, the policies designed to create jobs and raise salaries,” Abe told hundreds of voters in Tokyo’s neon-lit Akihabara electronics district on the eve of the election.
“Japan can be much richer,” Abe said, sporting a knee-length white windbreaker emblazoned with his campaign slogan: “This is the only way”. Abe, 60, was only halfway through his four-year term when he called the vote last month.
The first two of his “three arrows” of Abenomics — monetary easing and fiscal stimulus — have largely hit their targets; the once-painfully high yen has plunged and stocks have risen dramatically. Prices have also begun rising after years of treading water — proof, says Abe, that this is the beginning of a virtuous circle of economic growth, with higher wages soon to follow. However a sales tax rise in April snuffed out consumer spending, sending Japan into the two negative quarters of growth that make a recession.
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