Global Views
   Middle East & Africa
 Embassy News
 Arts & Living
 Travel & Hotel
 Medical Tourism New
 Letters to Editor
 Photo Gallery
 News Media Link
 TV Schedule Link
 News English
 Hospitals & Clinics
 Flea Market
 Moving & Packaging
 Religious Service
 Korean Classes
 Korean Weather
 Real Estate
 Home Stay
 Room Mate
 English Teaching
 Job Offered/Wanted
 Hotel Lounge
 Foreign Exchanges
 Korean Stock
 Business Center
 PR & Ads
 Arts & Performances
 Restaurants & Bars
 Tour & Travel
 Shopping Guide
 Foreign Missions
 Community Groups
 Foreign Workers
 Useful Services
 ST Banner Exchange
  Global Views
Critical Questions:
Shinzo Abe Rolls On
Special Contribution
By Mike Green & Nick Szechenyi
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) speaks while US President Donald Trump looks on at a gathering in 2017.

Today Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan won a third term as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and is on track to remain in power for another three years. Abe took a dent from party rival Shigeru Ishiba in the process but will now move to further solidify his control of the party with little pressure from a fractured opposition. He faces some political hurdles in the months ahead but could remain prime minister until 2021—ample time to further a policy agenda centered on sustainable growth, defense, and constitutional reform. Abe will now pivot quickly to diplomacy as he prepares for a critical meeting with President Trump next week focused mainly on trade and North Korea.

Q1: How convincing was Abe’s victory in the party leadership race?

A1: There were 810 votes at stake—405 from LDP parliamentarians and 405 from rank-and-file party members—and Abe won convincingly 553-254 with support from about 81 percent of parliamentarians and 55 percent of party members (Abe secured 329 and 224 votes from each group, respectively, while Ishiba garnered 73 and 181). Ishiba also challenged Abe back in 2012 and was popular with grassroots party members but failed to secure enough endorsements from his fellow Diet (parliament) members. A similar dynamic played out this time as almost all the parliamentary factions within the LDP endorsed Abe and propelled him to victory. Recent public opinion polls showed Abe’s overall popularity declining relative to Ishiba and Shinjiro Koizumi, the torch bearer for the younger generation of the LDP who endorsed Ishiba and is in the spotlight for the next leadership race in 2021. But Abe’s poll numbers among LDP supporters held steady despite some political scandals over the last year that threatened to damage his credentials. It is too early to tell whether Ishiba’s performance and Koizumi’s endorsement will affect Abe’s political capital, but how Abe prepares to use this new mandate will become clear if there is a cabinet reshuffle in October where he could face pressure to include new faces in the leadership ranks.

Abe’s victory in this race affords him a third and final three-year term as party leader (the LDP changed party rules last year to allow three consecutive terms), positioning him to remain prime minister until 2021. Abe faces two challenges next year in the form of nationwide local elections and a poll in the Upper House of the Diet, but the opposition parties are weak and have failed to present a coherent alternative to Abe’s policy agenda, which he will now pursue vigorously with his political standing secured.

Q2: What will Abe do with his fresh political capital?

A2: Abe is expected to further implement his economic growth strategy (dubbed “Abenomics”) comprised of monetary easing, fiscal stimulus, and wide-ranging structural reforms as engines for sustainable growth. The labor market and social security will likely feature most prominently during his third term, though he also will continue to champion trade liberalization as a staunch proponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) aimed at introducing high standards for regional economic integration. Abe will also address national defense. The government is currently drafting a fresh defense strategy and procurement budget to strengthen Japan’s capabilities in new domains such as space and cyber and acquire additional missile defense and air and maritime assets in response to an array of regional security challenges. Abe also would like to revise the constitution to clarify the role of Japan’s self-defense forces while preserving the war-renouncing Article 9 and could begin that quest in earnest this fall, though the bar is high as amendments require two-thirds support in both houses of the Diet and majority support in a public referendum. Domestic political stability also allows Abe to prioritize his foreign policy agenda centered on strengthening the U.S.-Japan alliance, networking with like-minded states in the Indo-Pacific region, and shaping regional and global institutions to preserve the rules-based international order. Abe will try to display his diplomatic bona fides at the UN General Assembly in New York next week where he also will meet separately with several world leaders including President Trump, with whom he enjoys close personal ties; he will use those ties to weather potential headwinds in U.S.-Japan relations over trade and North Korea policy.

Q3: Will U.S.-Japan relations remain on track?

A3: Abe arguably navigated the U.S. political transition better than any other world leader and succeeded in establishing personal ties with President Trump to sustain the vitality of the U.S.-Japan alliance. That camaraderie was most evident on North Korea policy where the two leaders shared a common approach based on isolating and pressuring the regime; but Trump’s shift to diplomacy earlier this year caught Japan by surprise and led Abe to endorse Trump’s summit with Kim Jong-un in Singapore while cautioning against any concessions absent concrete evidence of denuclearization. Abe will likely do the same next week, applauding the temporary reduction in tensions while urging the president not to sign a peace declaration with North Korea. Abe also will have to walk a fine line on trade as Trump is eager to reduce the bilateral trade deficit with Japan and could threaten to impose automobile tariffs in addition to tariffs on steel and aluminum levied against Japan earlier this year. Abe could highlight Japan’s contributions to the U.S. economy and suggest that a bilateral trade dialogue initiated last month serve as the vehicle for addressing any grievances. Abe and Trump met in April and June of this year and sounded a positive note about the U.S.-Japan alliance despite apparent differences on North Korea and trade, and chances are their close personal relationship will produce similar optics next week.

Q4: Does Abe’s political longevity have broader strategic implications for the United States?

A4: Extended political stability in Japan under Abe offers strategic clarity and consistency in an otherwise tumultuous period for international relations in Asia. Abe’s experience and commitment to strengthening the U.S.-Japan alliance can help shape U.S. policy in the region.

The above writer, Michael J. Green, is senior vice president for Asia and Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). And co-writer, Nicholas Szechenyi, is a senior fellow and deputy director of the Japan Chair at CSIS.

Critical Questions is produced by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a private, tax-exempt institution focusing on international public policy issues. Its research is nonpartisan and nonproprietary. CSIS does not take specific policy positions. Accordingly, all views, positions, and conclusions expressed in this publication should be understood to be solely those of the author(s).

Related Articles
    Tracking the Fourth Taiwan Strait Crisis
    Central Questions in US-China Relations amid ...
    Christopher B. Johnstone Joins CSIS as Japan ...
    China Unveils its 1st Long-Term Hydrogen Plan
    Filling In the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework
    Five Things to Watch in 2022
    Is China Building a New String of Pearls in ...
    China Ramping Up Its Electronic Warfare, ...
    A New Chapter in U.S.-China LNG Relations
    Previewing the 2021 Summit for Democracy
    China: The Growing Military Challenge: Volume ...
    The Case for US-Japan-ROK Cooperation on ...
    China's Commitment to Stop Overseas Financing ...
    China Headaches for Iran Nuclear Deal
    The Quad's Strategic Infrastructure Play
    China, Again and Again and Again
    Engaging China on Climate before COP26
    When Will the United States Have a Special ...
    Is Latin America Important to China's Foreign ...
    Chinese National Oil Companies Face the Energy ...
    Four Years On: An Update on Rohingya Crisis
    11th Annual South China Sea Conference: ...
    A Glimpse of Chinese Ballistic Missile ...
    US Defense Chief Austin Accomplishes Two ...
    China’s New National Carbon Trading Market: ...
    Progress Report on China’s Type 003 Carrier
    Geopolitical Implications of Scientific ...
    China’s Third Aircraft Carrier Takes Shape
    Strategic Competition and Foreign Perceptions ...
    Bonny Lin, Ex-RAND Scientist, to Join CSIS
    Beyond Polysilicon: The Ties between China’s ...
    Biden-Moon Summit: Rejuvenating and ...
    S. Korean President Moon Jae-In to Meet with ...
    China’s New Space Station Is a Stepping-Stone ...
    Future Scenarios for Leadership Succession in ...
    How China Affects Global Maritime Connectivity
    What Do Overseas Visits Reveal about China’s ...
    CSIS Commission on the Korean Peninsula: ...
    Reflections on the 10th Anniversary of the ...
    Understanding China’s 2021 Defense Budget
    China’s Opaque Shipyards Should Raise Red ...
    How Developed Is China’s Arms Industry?
    Myanmar’s Military Seizes Power
    A Complex Inheritance: Transitioning to a New ...
    Combatting Human Rights Abuses in Xinjiang
    How Covid-19 Affected US-China Military ...
    Previewing the G-20 and APEC Summits
    Another US-Built Facility at Ream Bites the ...
    Vietnam Currency Investigation: Strategy and ...
    CSIS Press Briefing: U.S. Policy toward Taiwan
    Mapping the Future of U.S. China Policy
    Assessing the Direction of South Korea-Japan ...
    Chinese Investment in the Maldives: Appraising ...
    Dual Circulation and China’s New Hedged ...
    Shinzo Abe’s Decision to Step Down
    A Frozen Line in the Himalayas
    Addressing Forced Labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur ...
    Decoupling Kabuki: Japan’s Effort to Reset, ...
    Remote Control: Japan's Evolving Senkakus ...
    Sil-li Ballistic Missile Support Facility
    China Won’t Be Scared into Choosing ...
    What’s on the Horizon for Covid-19
    Next Steps for the Coronavirus Response
    COVID-19 Threatens Global Food Security
    Geopolitics and the Novel Coronavirus
    Hope for the Climate
    The Novel Coronavirus Outbreak
    What's Inside the US-China Phase One Deal?
    When Iran Attacks
    Ports and Partnerships: Delhi Invests in ...
    Seeking Clues in Case of the Yuemaobinyu 42212
    Signaling Sovereignty: Chinese Patrols at ...
    Red Flags: Why Was China’s Fourth Plenum ...
    Japan and Korea: Rising Above the Fray
    Only US Can Pull Japan, Korea Back from Brink
    China Risks Flare-Up over Malaysian, ...
    Fear Won’t Stop China’s Digital Silk Road
    Japan, N. Korea: Summit, Missiles, Abductions
    “Chinese, Russian Influence in the Middle ...
    Tracking China’s 3rd Aircraft Carrier
    CSIS Scholars Discuss Trump-Abe Summit
    Still Under Pressure: Manila Vs. the Militia
    Is North Korea Preparing for a Military Parade?
    Slow and Steady: Vietnam's Spratly Upgrades
    Sanctions against North Korea: An Unintended ...
    More Is Possible Now to Address North Korea’s ...
    North Korea Reportedly Renews Commitment to ...
    Settling Kurdish Self-Determination in ...
    The Trump Administration’s Trade Objectives ...
    How Is China Securing Its LNG Needs?
    Responding to the Xinjiang Surveillance State ...
    Rethinking U.S. Strategy in the Pacific Islands
    Will the Election Results Turn the Tide on ...
    China, US Choose Between 4 “Cs” Conflict, ...
    Necessary Counterterrorism Conversations
    Trade and Wages
    North Korea Begins Dismantling Key Facilities ...
    Negotiating the Right Agreement: Looking ...
    The Korean Civil-Military Balance
    Will Trump-Kim Summit Be Cancelled?
    The Chinese Are Coming! The Chinese Are Coming!
    How Much Have the Chinese Actually Taken?
    The Other Side of N. Korean Threat: Looking ...
    The Other Side of the North Korean, Iranian, ...
    CSIS & Syracuse's Maxwell School Offer ...
    Dr. Sue Mi Terry Joins CSIS as Senior Fellow ...
    EU to Social Media: Regulate or Be Regulated
    Japan’s Lower House Election: Abe Prevails ...
    China and Technology: Tortoise and Hare Again
    "Countering Coercion in Maritime Asia"






The Seoul Times, Shinheung-ro 36ga-gil 24-4, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea 04337 (ZC)
Office: 82-10-6606-6188
Copyrights 2000 The Seoul Times Company  ST Banner Exchange