Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s gamble on early elections paid off with a sweeping victory that also puts pressure on the premier to show results from an economic program that’s failed to excite much of the public.
With the lowest voter turnout in the postwar era, Abe’s coalition won more than two-thirds of the 475 seats in the Diet’s lower house, getting at least 325. Abe, 60, strengthened his mandate to lead the Liberal Democratic Party before his current term is up in September, and boosted chances of staying in office until 2018 — becoming the longest-serving premier in four decades.
While Abe’s reflation program has driven the benchmark Topix index of stocks up more than 70 percent in his two years in office, he has yet to boost real incomes for Japan’s workers, and is now working to stoke a recovery from a mid-2014 recession. Another goal is overcoming resistance to plans to reduce limits on the military.