Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be facing off against his political opponent, former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, in Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leadership election on September 20. Already, five of the seven intra-party factions of the LDP have endorsed Abe over Ishiba.
The support of the LDP members will practically guarantee his reelection as their party leader and, by extension, another term as Prime Minister due to the LDP’s significant majority in the Diet.
Despite this likely political victory, one of Abe’s top priorities for his upcoming term will almost certainly remain unfulfilled. Abe has long desired to revise the 1947 Japanese constitution in order to extend Japan’s military defense capabilities.
The threat of North Korea, despite its claim to denuclearize; China’s rising aggression; as well as the uncertainty of the United States-Japan security alliance under President Trump, are all strong reasons for Japan to take a stronger stance on national security.
However, the lack of public support and trust in Abe, from cronyism scandals, neo-nationalist ideology, and an unaccommodating 2020 deadline he set for the revision, will ultimately hinder Abe’s ability to advance such a divisive political initiative.
Abe is pushing for the revision of Article 9 of the constitution, which would officially recognize Japan’s Self Defense Force (SDF) as the country’s military. The proposal would first have to obtain a two-thirds supermajority in the Diet, and then a simple majority in a national referendum to become law.
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