Voters in Japan withstood wind, rain and a rapidly approaching typhoon Lan today to vote in their new government.
Better said, they simply confirmed that the new government would look exactly the same as the old one.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic party (LDP) and his junior coalition partner Komeito were, at the close of polling stations, projected to win some 280 to 310 seats in the 465 seat House of Representatives. Should the higher estimates prove to be correct, it would mean that the 63-year old political animal which Mr Abe is, took another gamble and won.
Despite multiple cronyism scandals over the summer and varying approval ratings, he has always been able to select his own moment for elections, and it pays off rather handsomely for him.
If his government rides out the full four-year term with him at the helm, he will certainly be in office during the, for any politician coveted, Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
It did look different at a certain point in the pre-election cycle. Only a week after he had announced the snap election, the highly popular governor of Tokyo, Ms Yuriko Koike, a former LDP member, started her own political party which attracted several politicians from the opposition Democrats.
However, her attitude and pride as to the rapid rise in the national polls is what probably outdid her in the end (Public broadcaster NHK suggested that Ms Koike’s Party of Hope would struggle to even come second, with a projected win of 38 to 59 seats). When asked about the projected result, she commented: “It's a very harsh result. My remarks and behaviour made people feel unpleasant and that led to the harsh result. I reflect on this and feel I might have been arrogant.”
As to the why of their voting choice, many Japanese admitted that Mr Abe’ LDP represented continuation rather than change, and that in these insecure times they were in need of strong leadership. Mr Hiroki Shinohara, a wholesaler at Tsukiji fish market. “I don't particularly support Abe, but I do support the LDP. I feel it's doing what's right for Japan and Japan needs it.”
Ms Kyoko Ichida, a Tokyo resident, referred to the North Korean issue: “The situation in the world is not stable in many aspects and I believe the LDP is the only party we can depend on.”
If Mr Abe gets his coveted supermajority, it is expected that he will change article 9 of the constitution and shore up Japan’s armed forces.