Former rul­ing party re­turns in a land­slide

Lib­eral Demo­cratic Party back on top three years af­ter his­toric loss.

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By Martin Fackler Shinzo Abe will likely re­gain the of­fice of prime min­is­ter.

TOKYO — Ja­pan’s vot­ers handed a land­slide vic­tory to the Lib­eral Demo­cratic Party in na­tional par­lia­men­tary elec­tions on Sun­day, giv­ing power back to the con­ser­va­tive party that had gov­erned Ja­pan for decades un­til a his­toric de­feat three years ago.

In a chaotic elec­tion crowded with new par­ties mak­ing sweep­ing prom­ises from abol­ish­ing nu­clear power af­ter the Fukushima ac­ci­dent to cre­at­ing Amer­i­can-style fed­er­al­ism, the Lib­eral Democrats pre­vailed with their less rad­i­cal vi­sion of re­viv­ing the re­ces­sion-bound econ­omy and stand­ing up to an in­creas­ingly as­sertive China.

A vic­tory would all but en­sure that the Lib­eral Demo­cratic leader, Shinzo Abe, a former prime min­is­ter who is one Ja­pan’s most out­spo­ken na­tion­al­ists, will be able to form a new government with him­self as prime min­is­ter.

Some ex­perts said the vic­tory showed a greater will­ing­ness by this long paci­fist na­tion to ac­cept Abe’s calls for a stronger mil­i­tary at a time when Ja­pan faces an in­ten­si­fy­ing show­down with China over dis­puted is­lands.

Oth­ers said it re­flected the deep­en­ing pub­lic frus­tra­tion with a host of grow­ing prob­lems from a con­tract­ing econ­omy to a tee­ter­ing pen­sion sys­tem, which the Lib­eral Democrats must now try to fix.

How­ever, the dom­i­nant view of Sun­day’s vote was that it was not so much a weak­en­ing of Ja­pan’s de­sire for dras­tic change, or a swing to the anti-Chi­nese right, as a re­buke of the in­cum­bent Democrats, who swept aside the Lib­eral Democrats three years ago with bold vows to over­haul Ja­pan’s scle­rotic post­war or­der, only to dis­ap­point vot­ers by fail­ing to de­liver.

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