Double dissolution election on the cards in Japan

Author: Rikki Kersten, Murdoch University

In November this year, Shinzo Abe will become the longest-serving prime minister in Japanese history after being re-elected as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in September 2018. With several notable achievements under his belt and an appetite for more, it may seem odd that speculation is rife about the possibility of a mid-year double dissolution election. Ironically, it is blowback against his apparent successes that may force his hand.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers his policy speech at the lower house of parliament in Tokyo, Japan, 28 January 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Issei Kato).

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Burdened by the demographic double whammy of a negative birth rate and a rapidly ageing society, Abe’s success in raising the consumption tax in measured stages is an important symbolic step towards addressing a declining tax base. The second phase of the consumption tax increase from 8 to 10 per cent, already deferred twice owing to voter and industry concerns over stubborn deflation, is scheduled to occur in October 2019. Having touted the success of Abenomics in his January 2019 policy speech, Abe’s credibility will be dented if he tries to defer this increase again. But the domestic landscape this year may put Abe between a rock and a hard place.

In April 2019, Japan will undertake nation-wide local government elections. This will serve as a barometer for the …continue reading