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Shinzo Abe

Shinzo Abe is president of the Liberal Democratic Party and was elected prime minister of Japan in December 2012. He also served as prime minister in 2006 after being elected by a special session of Japan’s National Diet, but resigned after less than a year.

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JAPAN

Shinzo Abe vows to press ahead with painful reforms

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 July, 2013, 3:08am

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged yesterday to push on with painful reforms aimed at fixing Japan's economic woes after voters handed him a handsome majority in upper house polls.

Abe said victory for his Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner New Komeito was vindication of his economic policy.

"We appealed to voters in this election that we will press forward with economic policies. They back our position after we said this is the way to go and nothing else," he told a press conference.

We appealed to voters in this election that we will press forward with economic policies. They back our position after we said this is the way to go and nothing else
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

The landslide victory means both legislative chambers are now under government control and Abe can push through painful structural reforms.

The LDP and Komeito now have 135 of the 242 seats in the house of councillors. The country's main opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan, has just 59.

Although the thumping victory was expected, investors cheered the outcome, sending the Nikkei index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange up 1.23 per cent shortly after the opening bell. It settled to close up 0.47 per cent. Abe said he would speed up decision-making and policy implementation, attempting to dispel speculation that he might shy away from reforming the labour market and removing trade barriers now elections are out of the way, and turn his attention to pet nationalist projects.

But economists say deeper, more far-reaching changes are needed to sustain growth.

In just a few months, Abe will face a decision on whether to raise sales tax from 5 per cent to 8 per cent, a move many worry could derail the recovery but is vital for Japan's financial health.

Abe indicated it was not a done deal. "We will make the final decision this autumn," he said.

The tough position Abe has taken in territorial disputes is popular with his electoral base and the premier made sure to throw them a bone at the press conference.

"It is people's intention to have us push for policies firmly and show achievement in diplomacy based on stable power," he said.

"I want to push for powerful diplomacy. I want to display our presence to the world firmly."

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