As world leaders head to Hamburg, Germany for the G-20 summit this weekend, none may be more eager for the International Stage, than Shinzo Abe of Japan. Last weekend, his Liberal Democratic Party suffered historic losses in elections for the local assembly in Tokyo. More, from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.
This is the first check to the ruling party since Abe took office five years ago, and a crushing check at that. The rout was led by the popular governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, who abandoned the LDP to establish her own party – Tomin First no Kai – or Tokyoites First. While the new party elected 49 of its fifty candidates to the Tokyo assembly, the LDP’s share plummeted to 23.
NHK showed a grim Shinzo Abe at his office afterwards, “I believe the public has sent us a tough message that we have lost our discipline.”
The Japan Times quoted political scientist Norihiko Narita as pointing to the “beginning of the end of Abe’s invincibility.”
Until Sunday’s vote, most analysts thought that Abe stood every chance to achieve his ambitions to revise the post-war Pacifist constitution, and extend his tenure to preside over the 2020 Olympic Games. Now that’s open to question.
But Abe does not have to call national elections until next year, which gives him time to polish the party’s image. Another question, is the political future of Yuriko Koike; she’s widely believed to harbor the goal to become Japan’s first female Prime Minister. But she would risk local support if she turned to national politics too soon. Analysts suggest she may seek another term as Tokyo’s governor, which would put her in position to return to the National stage after the 2020 Olympics.