Japan's Liberal Democratic Party, the country's main opposition party, is likely to sweep Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's ruling Democratic Party of Japan in the general election scheduled for Dec. 16, according to polls released yesterday. The projected LDP win would install Shinzo Abe as the country’s prime minister for the second time.
Sheila Smith, senior fellow for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and William Grimes, chairman of the Department of International Relations at Boston University, told Trend Lines these elections have major implications for Japan, particularly in foreign policy.
“This election could be a turning point for the region if a more conservative Japanese leadership takes Japan in a more militarized direction,” Smith said, explaining that Abe, who was prime minister from 2006 to 2007, is widely seen as a conservative nationalist looking to strengthen the Japanese military. “What is less clear is whether or not the LDP will also undertake an assertive diplomatic effort to improve relations with its neighbors.”