This article was published in the CSIS Japan Chair Platform. Please click here to read the entire article.
After three long years as the opposition party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has reelected Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as its party president. This time around, he is no longer the rising political star in the party, having only won the leadership position in the second round after losing the first round of party elections to Shigeru Ishiba. Moving forward, Abe will have many challenges ahead. Among other things, he will have to demonstrate to voters he can offer hope and a vision that inspires voters more so than his slogan of “utsukushi kuni (beautiful country),” which just left them confused. Additionally, he will have to show that he has learned from the mistakes he made as a Prime Minister- including filling his cabinet with his personal friends, and that he can include offer senior positions to LDP members who may not be his staunch supporters. In terms of foreign and national security policy, Abe will have to show to the US that he can deliver on important US-Japan issues where the Democratic Party of Japan has struggled, such as Trans-Pacific Partnership participation and the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa. However, none of this will matter unless the LDP regains control of the Diet, and ultimately, this will be the the standard by which his second chance is judged.