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Implications of Japan's Upper House Election

Recorded on July 31, 2007

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

Japan's Upper House election on July 29 is a judgment on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's leadership.  Abe's approval rating has plummeted since he assumed office and an outraged electorate is holding the Prime Minister and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party responsible for the government having lost millions of pension records.  Abe has also been hurt by a series of cabinet minister scandals which underscored long-standing perceptions of LDP corruption.  The run-up to the election will remain volatile with polls showing falling support for the LDP while the opposition Democratic Party of Japan has yet to show an ability to capitalize on the ruling coalition's troubles.

A significant LDP loss could cause Prime Minister Abe to resign.  An LDP loss of control of the upper house or an Abe departure would constrain the ruling coalition's ability to enact legislation and hinder U.S. efforts to have Japan assume a larger Asian and global security role.  Our panelists will discuss the impact of the election on Japan's domestic politics as well as implications for economic reform and foreign policy.