Japan’s leader earns victory after failed run against government, DPJ

Hiroshi Kishida, Japan’s president, easily won a victory in an election Friday, but the narrow margin means his government will have to prove its economic agenda is working. Kishida’s Liberal Democratic Party and its…

Japan's leader earns victory after failed run against government, DPJ

Hiroshi Kishida, Japan’s president, easily won a victory in an election Friday, but the narrow margin means his government will have to prove its economic agenda is working.

Kishida’s Liberal Democratic Party and its small ally, the Komeito Party, won 239 seats in the 465-seat chamber, against Kawakami’s Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) that won just 206 seats.

Former DPJ leader Shinzo Abe, who remains prime minister, called for a snap election because of objections by some members of his own party. During the campaign, the first held since 2011, Kishida and other coalition members criticized Abe’s reflationary economy policies and austerity measures.

After the results were announced, Kishida appeared on television and congratulated Kawakami, but added: “Japan was never like other countries,” according to the Asahi Shimbun.

Following the election, Kishida also visited Emperor Akihito, who has been in good health but is seeking a more flexible role. On Wednesday, Kishida paid a visit to the ocean, showing a different image than Prime Minister Abe. The prime minister, who works from a garden, prays before the emperor, while Kishida stood at the water’s edge offering a toast.

Abe has been at odds with many of the academics and liberals in his own party over his economic policies, which they consider destructive to the welfare of the nation. To increase domestic demand, some suggest some consumption taxes rise and government spending be curbed, but Abe has resisted these suggestions and says he will stick to his signature “Abenomics” policies.

The standards of living of Japan’s citizens have risen, but the income gains are not being shared equally among citizens, including Japanese women. A recent poll showed that 51 percent of women aged 65-69 said they have trouble making ends meet, and a similar proportion said they don’t earn enough money. The government recently began a social security system to guarantee pay raises for women workers, with a 20 percent pay increase for those working in childcare.

Abe wants to upgrade Japan’s political system and has proposed his Cabinet office should be made independent. Currently, Cabinet members are appointed by a parliamentary committee of former leaders and other politicians.

“It is a once-in-a-generation challenge,” Abe said of the revamp.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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