Japan: Eyes on the constitution

Japan: Eyes on the constitution

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won re-election as head of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party in a September 2018 landslide, paving the way for up to three more years as the nation’s leader and a push toward a constitutional revision that would give the military more leeway to conduct operations.

The decisive victory may embolden Abe to pursue his long-sought amendment to Japan’s U.S.-drafted pacifist constitution, although the hurdles remain high and doing so would carry political risks. “It’s time to tackle a constitutional revision,” Abe said in a victory speech.

Abe said he’s determined to use his last term to pursue his policy goals to “sum up” Japan’s postwar diplomacy to ensure peace in the country. “Let’s work together to make a new Japan,” he said.

Abe, who has been prime minister since December 2012, has cemented control of his party and is poised to become Japan’s longest-serving prime minister in August 2021. He has several policy challenges, including dealing with Japan’s aging and declining population, a royal succession in the spring, and a consumption tax hike to 10 percent he has already delayed twice.

Amid international effort to denuclearize North Korea, Abe seeks to meet with Kim Jong Un to resolve their disputes, including the decades-old problem of Japanese citizens abducted to the North. He also faces China’s increasingly assertive activity in the region.  The Associated Press