Japan now looks forward to a new government to assume power to give shape to its policies on both economic and international fronts after last Sunday's general election to its Diet's 480-seat lower house. Its political map has now been redrawn, with voters demonstrating a strongly pronounced swing to the right. The conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), led by Mr Shinzo Abe, has won a decisive supermajority, taking 294 seats. Together with its smaller partner, Komeito, the LDP will control 325 seats, more than two-thirds majority in the lower house of the Diet.
The electoral outcome in 2012 shows how wrong some political pundits in Japan and elsewhere were in their predictions three years back about the 'end' of LDP's domination of Japanese politics that has endured for more than half a century. Politics is no fortune-teller's job and there is no last word or chapter in politics. Much here hinges on the psyche or mood of the people and the practical circumstances to which they are exposed in their day-to-day life. This applies to all countries where democracy works. Voters are strongly prone to becoming tough on incumbent parties. It is this factor -- the delivery of the incumbent parties -- that weighs heavily in the electoral choice of the voters; this choice is shaped more by how they assess the performance of a party or parties in power and less by any whole-hearted endorsement of the stance of its opponents.
In last Sunday's election in Japan, concerns about the economy trumped all other issues. Japan is the world's third largest economy. But it has been confronting serious problems of deflation, joblessness, wider unease and growing insecurity among its people since long. The performance of the erstwhile ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has been most unimpressive during the last three years on the economic front. In this backdrop, LDP and its leader, Shinzo Abe who is to become new prime minister of Japan for a second time, promised to push a large-scale public works programme, to press Bank of Japan for a more aggressive monetary policy that might tame inflation, to boost manufacturers by weaking the Yen, stimulate spending on infrastructure and to rebuild the economy. These are no easy jobs. But the Japanese voters do certainly expect Mr Abe and his party to be pro-active right from the beginning on coming to grips particularly with the economic problems.
There are, of course, other issues which have been on Mr. Abe's campaign agenda. He has, thus, promised about raising Japan's defence spending, easing limits on the use of its already potent self-defence forces, revisiting the country's pacifistic postwar constitution, pursuing tough stance on the disputed Senkaku Island and dealing with other issues with China. How he proceeds on these matters will have wider international implications. Certainly as a responsible leader of a powerful country like Japan, he is widely expected to pursue not any adventurist course of action. This is more so because the LDP will enter a probationary period between now and next summer when it must face voters again in an election for the upper house of the Diet. Mr. Abe is expected to tread a relatively cautious path particularly on international front, at least until then. With power comes responsibility.
Mr. Abe deserves congratulations from all concerned for his thumping victory in the election to Japan's lower house. The people of Japan will expect him to opt for moderation on the international front that will match well the ideals and principles that they do strongly uphold for harmony, peace and stability, regionally and globally, in tandem with other peace-loving peoples of the world.