The conservative party that dominated post-war Japan is back in power after a three-year absence, in a landslide election victory Sunday that will result in hawkish Shinzo Abe returning as prime minister. Abe, 58, who served in the post once before, is likely to pursue a tougher stance toward China and prevent the nation from abandoning nuclear energy. The conservative Liberal Democratic Party was projected by NHK Television to win 291 out of 480 seats in Japan’s lower house, while its ally, the New Komeito Party, had 30. That would give them the two-third majority needed to overrule the upper house, perhaps breaking deadlocks that have long stymied Japanese governments.
The Liberal Democrats held a near monopoly on power in Japan from 1955 to 2009, when they were beaten by the Democratic Party of Japan. This time around, the Democratic Party was projected to win only 56 seats. Prime Minister Yoshiko Noda resigned as head of the party Sunday night, hours after the polls closed, conceding the election results were a “disappointment.”
The remarkable comeback of the conservative establishment reflects the high level of national anxiety about economic stagnation and falling behind China.