Japan's Prime Minister Is Saving His Most Ambitious Plans for Last

Jun 15, 2019 | 09:30 GMT

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a party convention in February 2019.

Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) introduces the candidates for the country's upcoming legislative election at an annual convention in Tokyo on Feb. 10, 2019.

(Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)


  • The upcoming election for Japan's upper house will not jeopardize the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's current stronghold, but will instead serve as a gauge of public attitudes concerning its domestic policies and priorities. 
  • A strong performance in the polls will grant Prime Minister Shinzo Abe the freedom to pursue long-awaited constitutional reforms and a consumption tax hike in the final two years of his third term. 
  • After the election, Japan will likely strike a bilateral deal with the United States to avoid auto tariffs before November, though Tokyo will push for the agreement to be as narrow as possible.

Japan will hold elections for the upper house of the country's legislature, the National Diet, this summer, likely in July. Without a formidable opponent and only half of the seats in play, there is little risk of a major upset for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). But a particularly strong showing at the polls would give Abe the freedom to finally proceed with some of his longstanding wishes before the end of his third term, which include constitutional reforms, raising the consumption tax and tamping down U.S. trade pressure. But regardless of the election outcome, Abe will find that Tokyo's close alliance with the United States will continue to hinder his government's diplomatic outreach to China, Russia and North Korea. ...

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