Japan is poised to take a sharp turn to the right in the coming general election that will be held Dec. 16. All indications point to a return of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) under the leadership of the hawkish, one-time prime minister, Shinzo Abe.
Abe exuded confidence during a debate Nov. 30 at the National Press Club that he will be prime minister in a few short weeks. The incumbent PM, Yoshihiko Noda of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) seemed strangely passive, befitting a leader who knows that he faces ignominious defeat and can’t do much about it.
Conservatism is somewhat different in Japan than it is in other countries, such as the United States. It is not defined, as it often is in U.S., by opposition to tax increases (indeed, the LDP provided the votes to pass a doubling of the national sales tax last summer).
No, the term in Japan usually refers to a more nationalistic diplomacy, revisions to the pacifistic constitution with its war-renouncing Article 9, more defense spending and a stronger position on territorial disputes, such as over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. Abe strongly supports all of these issues.