Abe’s last chance
Japan desperately needs economic reform; Shinzo Abe still offers the best chance of that
TWO years ago Shinzo Abe ran for office vowing to end Japan’s long economic malaise by banishing deflation and smashing the old habits that impeded growth. He promised to make a country suffering a collapse in confidence once again stand tall. Mr Abe won the election in a landslide, yet barely two years later he has called another.
One reason for this is painfully obvious: Mr Abe has failed to deliver on those promises. Japan is once more flirting with recession and deflation. Households feel no better off. Promised structural reforms have not happened. “Abenomics”, the prime minister’s slickly marketed programme, is looking to many Japanese like a prescription that is benefiting only the rich and big business. Mr Abe’s decision to hold a fresh election on December 14th is in part a cynical move to consolidate his power before his popularity falls further.
In political terms that gamble seems likely to pay off. Given a weak opposition, it would be a shock if his Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner, Komeito, did not win again. But does Mr Abe actually deserve a second term? Our answer is yes—but only if he does what, in an interview with this newspaper (see article), he says he will by finally embarking on the structural reforms that his country badly needs.
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