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Editorial: Abe must show firm resolve to take reins of long-running administration

  • August 27, 2018
  • , The Japan News , 08:19 p.m.
  • English Press
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It is a challenge that sets sights on retaining the reins of government for the longest period in history. That is exactly why it is important to promote substantive policy debates and clearly show what course should be adopted by Japan.

 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed his intention to run in the Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election in September, seeking a third consecutive win in the party’s leadership race. This means it is almost certain that the presidential election will be fought as a one-on-one contest between the prime minister and former LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba.

In Kagoshima Prefecture, the prime minister spoke to reporters, citing such matters as the succession to the Imperial throne next year and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. “Japan will reach a major turning point in its history. It will move forward with new nation-developing efforts in its path toward the post-Heisei era. I’m determined to spearhead that endeavor,” he said.

 

The LDP revised its party regulations to extend the term of office for a party president from “two terms lasting for six years” to “three consecutive terms lasting for nine years.” This made it possible for the prime minister to run in the upcoming race.

 

If Abe wins a third term as LDP president, his multiple election wins will be second to that of Prime Minister Eisaku Sato, who was elected party leader four times. Abe would become the longest-serving prime minister in the nation’s history of constitutional government in November next year.

 

Due to the LDP’s sweeping victory in last year’s House of Representatives election, some within the party view Abe’s third consecutive win as a foregone conclusion.

 

Avoid uneventful race

 

The forthcoming presidential election will be important as it will decide whether Abe will be tasked with leading an unprecedentedly long-running administration. With this firmly in mind, the two contenders should not allow the leadership election to end up as an uneventful race.

 

With the opinions of each LDP faction in mind, the prime minister will unveil a set of policies, based on his party’s campaign pledge for last year’s lower house election. If he takes the lead at this historical turning point, he should demonstrate his resolve to tackle difficult domestic and diplomatic problems and devise a strategy for achieving that objective.

 

One of his important tasks is amending the Constitution. The prime minister has expressed a wish to submit an LDP draft for constitutional revisions to the next Diet session. The main pillar of the draft is writing the existence of the Self-Defense Forces into Article 9 of the supreme law. It is necessary to carefully emphasize the significance of the draft, first and foremost.

Despite an improvement in corporate profits and the employment situation, it is still unclear what course should be adopted to achieve sustainable growth. It is vital to ensure deflation ends after inspecting the successes and harmful effects of the Abenomics economic-reform package.

 

It was possible to see a measure of arrogance in the attitude adopted by the prime minister and figures close to him in responding to the problems involving the Moritomo and Kake educational institutions. It is important for Abe to stay on his guard against such arrogance and laxity, and demonstrate a readiness to sincerely take the reins of government.

Ishiba has said he will not consider hurriedly seeking a revision of Article 9. With respect to economic policies, he is set to unveil measures that attach importance to invigorating the regional economy.

 

Although the LDP race will be fought as a struggle for power over the post of prime minister, it could encourage the public’s mistrust of government if Abe and Ishiba solely engage in trading verbal attacks.

 

“The bone of contention will be what kind of nation-developing effort should be made. I’d like to engage in highly substantive debates,” the prime minister said. That is the very battle of words that should be expected.

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