Just two months ago, the Democrat Japanese opposition party could be seen rubbing their hands at the low approval ratings for Prime Minister Abe who had trouble surviving scandal after scandal.
But then disaster for Japan struck and a saviour descended from the sky for the current Prime Minister in the form of North Korean missiles being fired over the island.
All of a sudden most Japanese felt that the hardliner Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is might just be the president that they need, and so his approval numbers went up again.
So much so that Abe is widely expected to visit the Japanese lower house, or Diet, tomorrow and call a snap election 14 months ahead of schedule, most probably on 22 October. With a new mandate, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will likely push through a re-armament for Japan in order to defend itself better against future North Korean aggression.
Abe is of course a chess player when it comes to calling elections, either for the country or for a leadership contest within his own political party. The saying ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’ is one that he knows very well. Whether that is at the cost of his political rivals or at the expense of some fearsome citizens, he’ll do what he wants anyway.
Political Analyst Jeff Kingston of Temple University said: “Kim Jong Un is doing him (red: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe) a great favour. During crises like this, there is a rally around the flag and that helps the Liberal Democratic Party, which is seen as strong on security.”
Even the main opposition Democratic party strategist, Atsushi Kinoshita, understand why Abe will do so: “With North Korean missiles flying over Japan and local governments conducting evacuation drills, of course people feel a sense of crisis. Prime Minister Abe is betting that Japanese citizens will agree with his position on reinforcing Japan’s military.”
The Japanese citizens however are not convinced that the timing for an election is altogether that good. In a Kyodo news agency survey published today, two thirds of them responded that they are opposed to the government’s plan for an election in October.