Japan: Conservatives Back In

In a landslide, the conservative Liberal Democratic Party in Japan won yesterdays election, re-taking control that it held almost continuously since the end of WWII after a three-year break. The party leader, Shinzo Abe, will likely become prime minister, an office he held briefly in 2006 – 2007, resigning “for health reasons” amid scandal.

The party ran on a platform of increased nationalism and militarism, restoration of nuclear power, and increased spending to stimulate the economy, but the victory is widely viewed more as a condemnation of the previous government than an endorsement of LDP policies.

Still, we can expect to see Japan take a firmer stance against China’s territorial claims, a stand that will increase tensions in the region. Those increased tensions bear directly on the United States, who has treaty obligations to defend Japan militarily without the domestic will, the diplomatic presence, or the military structure to do much about those obligations.

So, we ratchet up global tensions, again. And the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia” will have to move beyond rhetoric quicker than anyone wants.

L. A. Times, New York Times, China Daily [thin coverage].

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