Former ruling party returns in a landslide
Liberal Democratic Party back on top three years after historic loss.
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.