Japan may face political uncertainty in the weeks ahead with an election slated for the Diet’s Upper House this summer. Only a few months ago, it was widely thought that Prime Minister Abe would dissolve the Lower House in order to have a double election this summer. However, lackluster economic performance, the pending decision on a consumption tax increase, and the task of reconstruction after the Kumamoto earthquakes may encourage the Prime Minister to reevaluate his options. How will the ruling coalition redefine its electoral strategy as voters expect further progress on the economic agenda? Can the newly-formed Democratic Party use this first electoral test to demonstrate greater potential?
On May 3, the Center for East Asia Policy Studies hosted a panel of distinguished Japanese politicians for a discussion on the future of Japanese politics. Yoshimasa Hayashi, Yasutoshi Nishimura, and Itsunori Onodera of the Liberal Democratic Party and Goshi Hosono of the Democratic Party shared their thoughts on their respective parties’ preparations for the upcoming election and the impact the election may have on the balance of power in the Diet, as well as issues such as the ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the implementation of signature reform policies, and the potential resurgence of the opposition Democratic Party.