By Satoshi Sekoguchi
The House of Representatives election ended in a landslide victory for the ruling parties.
Sankei Shimbun claimed that this victory signifies that “the people gave strong support to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s call to overcome the imminent national crises facing Japan — the North Korea crisis and the low birth rate coupled with an aging population.” It criticized the opposition’s stance in the campaign, noting that “they failed to present clear points of contention and concrete plans for overcoming the national crisis.”
While Yomiuri Shimbun concluded that “there is no question that the ruling parties’ ability to govern won support,” it added that the ruling bloc “owed its victory largely to the opposition’s errors.” It took the position that this was not an unconditional vote of confidence on Abe’s policies and political posture.
Nikkei asserted, “In short, this election was characterized by the opposition’s ‘self-destruction.’” It voiced a harsh opinion on the administration, stating: “While the voters indeed voted for the LDP-Komeito administration, this was simply a form of passive support because they thought the administration was still a better option than the opposition.”
Asahi Shimbun expressed an even more negative opinion: “There are evidently diverse views and opinions among the voting public, which has given Abe a fresh mandate to govern the nation. We see some wide gaps between the election outcomes and the findings of opinion polls conducted during the campaign period.” “The election results should be seen more as a defeat of the opposition parties.” Asahi continues to be completely critical of the Abe administration, which the people voted to keep in power.
The newspapers made different demands on the management of the administration from now on.
Sankei wrote: “Prime Minister Abe, who has consolidated his power base, should move quickly to actualize the policies he advocated.” It cited response to North Korea as the top priority. It also called for defending the people to the end in the event of a contingency on the Korean Peninsula and demanded the introduction of the capability to attack enemy bases and an increase in defense spending. On the Constitution, Sankei said: “Prime Minister Abe and the LDP must persist in realizing their campaign pledge to revise the Constitution.”
On the other national crisis of the low birth rate and an aging population, Sankei pointed out that the ruling parties focused only on such things as free education or childcare during the campaign, arguing that they need to present an overall vision for social security reform.
Yomiuri Shimbun asked Abe not to be arrogant and to manage his administration meticulously and humbly. It called on all parties “not to idly put off the constitutional debate but to come up with their own opinions.”
The four main newspapers other than Sankei and Yomiuri put pressure on the administration based on their positions of opposing or not supporting constitutional revision. Asahi, predicting that Abe will “work vigorously for constitutional revision” in light of the election results, pointed out that “elections in a democracy do not give the winners a carte blanche,” and that “there are diverse views among the public on constitutional revision.” It asserted that investigations into the Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Gakuen affairs should come before the constitutional debate.
Mainichi Shimbun voiced concern that “the Prime Minister may claim that he has obtained the people’s support on constitutional revision” and that “nothing would be more dangerous than a constitutional revision process without the people’s trust.” It added: “It is necessary to discuss the role of the SDF calmly and form a broad consensus among the people with a vision for the future.”
Nikkei argued that the most important responsibility of the political authorities is to revitalize the economy. “The dream of revising the Constitution for the first time in history must not be pursued at the expense of the fundamental principles of politics.”
It is very true that “the government and the ruling parties have no time to bask in the glory of electoral victory,” said Sankei. (Slightly abridged)