Abe’s gam­ble may pay off, sur­veys show

The New Paper - - NEWS -

Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe’s snap elec­tion gam­ble may pay off af­ter me­dia fore­casts showed his rul­ing bloc head­ing for a sur­pris­ingly big win, pos­si­bly enough to reen­er­gise his push to re­vise Ja­pan’s post-World War II paci­fist con­sti­tu­tion.

A hefty vic­tory in the Oct 22 poll would raise the like­li­hood that his Lib­eral Demo­cratic Party (LDP) will re­tain Mr Abe as its head for a third term next year.

With 10 days still to go, sources warned there was still room for a slip up, as about half the vot­ers sur­veyed re­mained un­de­cided.

For now, pro­jec­tions by the Nikkei busi­ness daily, Yomi­uri news­pa­per and Ky­odo news agency showed Mr Abe’s con­ser­va­tive LDP-led coali­tion on track to win close to 300 or more seats in the 465-mem­ber lower House, im­prov­ing the ma­jor­ity it held in the last Par­lia­ment.

The LDP alone could win about 288 seats, or about the same as be­fore dis­so­lu­tion, Ky­odo fore­casted.

“The scram­ble gam­ble paid off for Abe,” said Mr Jes­per Koll, head of equity fund Wis­domTree Ja­pan. “If the LDP gets 250 to 280 seats, he is safe.”

With no elec­tion needed un­til late next year, some an­a­lysts had pre­dicted Mr Abe might re­gret his early bid for a fresh man­date.

But his main chal­lenger, Tokyo Gover­nor Yuriko Koike’s fledg­ling con­ser­va­tive Party of Hope, ap­peared to be strug­gling de­spite calls for pop­u­lar poli­cies, such as an exit from nu­clear power and a sales tax hike freeze.

The month-old Hope party ap­peared set to win about 69 seats, with a range of 46 to 110, the Nikkei said.

Mr Abe called the snap elec­tion amid dis­ar­ray in the op­po­si­tion camp and af­ter an uptick in his rat­ings, which had been hurt ear­lier this year by scan­dals over sus­pected crony­ism.

He has called his “Abe­nomics” recipe of hy­per­easy mone­tary pol­icy, fis­cal spend­ing and promised struc­tural re­forms a suc­cess.

And yes­ter­day the stock mar­ket wel­comed ex­pec­ta­tions that his re­fla­tion­ary poli­cies would con­tinue, with the Nikkei in­dex hit­ting its high­est level since De­cem­ber 1996.

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