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Abe re-elected as Japan PM after election victory

  • November 1, 2017
  • , Jiji , 3:06 p.m.
  • English Press

TOKYO — Liberal Democratic Party leader Shinzo Abe was re-elected as Japan’s prime minister in a special Diet session Wednesday following the LDP’s overwhelming victory in the Oct. 22 lower house election.


Prior to the session of parliament, which convened the same day for a run through Dec. 9, his Cabinet resigned en masse with Abe, who has served as premier for nearly five years, preparing to form his core team later in the day.


Abe is expected to retain all members of the current Cabinet launched in early August, before the House of Representatives was dissolved for the general election the following month. His fourth Cabinet will be formally inaugurated with an attestation ceremony at the Imperial Palace.


The premier has already decided to retain his top LDP executives, including Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai.


Earlier in the day, the lower chamber re-elected Speaker Tadamori Oshima and picked as vice speaker Hirotaka Akamatsu, a member of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party in the lower house.


The ruling and opposition parties agreed that the special Diet session will run for 39 days, during which Abe is expected to deliver a policy speech and answer questions from party representatives.


At the first meeting of his new Cabinet later Wednesday, Abe is planning to instruct that a supplementary budget for fiscal 2017 be compiled with the aim of improving child care support, according to a government source.


Immediate tasks facing the incoming Cabinet also include drafting a budget for next fiscal year starting in April, which will be deliberated in the Diet early next year, and drawing up a policy package by the end of the year to address Japan’s low birthrate and aging population.


During election campaigning, Abe said he needed a fresh mandate for his administration’s handling of the North Korean nuclear and missile threats and its decision to spend more of the revenue from a planned consumption tax hike in October 2019 on social welfare, such as child care and education.


The election outcome strengthened the prospects of Abe running in the LDP leadership contest next September and becoming Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, after he returned to power in late 2012. At present, he is the third longest-serving Japanese leader in the postwar era.


Abe is aiming to promote debate over the first-ever amendment to Japan’s pacifist Constitution. As part of its election platform, the LDP vowed to discuss changes including an explicit mention of the status of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces.


The ruling coalition of the LDP and the Komeito party as well as forces supportive of an amendment to the Constitution comprise the two-thirds majorities in both Diet chambers required to formally propose a revision, which must then gain a majority of votes in a national referendum.

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