With his newly won parliamentary majority in both houses of the Diet, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces an important choice. Will he govern as a pragmatist working to improve Japan’s economy? Or will he govern as a nationalist who engages in territorial disputes with neighbors and tries to amend Japan’s constitution to create a bigger, stronger and less-restricted military?
The choice Abe makes will have profound implications not just for Japan but for the U.S., all of Asia and much of the world.
Early indications are that Abe intends to be a pragmatist. In his first news conference after the July 21 parliamentary election, he pledged to focus the upcoming parliamentary session on implementing economic growth. This is certainly what Japanese voters want. Media exit polls show that 70 percent of voters approve of Abe’s economic policies, while voters are sharply divided on his national security policy agenda.
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This op-ed first appeared in the International Business Times on July 26, 2013.