5 reasons why the Japanese general election results matter to us

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is also leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), speaks during a news conference at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo on Dec 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is also leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), speaks during a news conference at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo on Dec 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

1. Four more years of Liberal Democratic Party rule

The overwhelming victory by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) means Japan is poised to enjoy another four years of stable government and very likely under the continued leadership of Mr Abe.

Internationally, the prospect of Japan not having "revolving-door governments" for a few more years at least will raise its credibility, allowing it to carve out a bigger political role in this region and in the world.

Mr Abe's renewed mandate gives him a freer hand not only to steer the economy but also to pursue unpopular policies such as restarting idled nuclear power plants and giving the Japanese military bigger defence powers.

2. More of Abenomics growth policies

Many Japanese feel that Abenomics has not really improved their lives.

Because they have given Mr Abe a second chance to prove that Abenomics does work, he cannot afford to fail. To drag his feet over Abenomics again could be politically costly.

Mr Abe now needs to go full steam ahead with the launching of much-needed structural reforms in the so-called "third arrow" of his Abenomics policy package.

3. Postponement of the second sales tax hike

Mr Abe argues that Abenomics will create favourable economic conditions for the raising of the sales tax from the present 8 per cent to 10 per cent, in April 2017.

But the postponement of this sales tax hike by 18 months, from an earlier deadline of October 2015, means that the Abe administration will most likely have to cover the revenue shortfall by making deep cuts in government expenditure on social security and other areas, placing a greater burden on the Japanese people.

4. Japan's relations with its neighbours

As Mr Abe is now likely to carry on as prime minister of Japan for another few years, we are likely to see the leaders of China and South Korea resign themselves to putting aside bilateral squabbles with Japan and agreeing to sit down with Mr Abe to ponder their countries' future relations with Tokyo.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has already indicated as much in his speech on Saturday, Dec 13, to mark the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, in which tens of thousands of Chinese civilians were killed by invading Japanese soldiers.

Improved ties between Japan and its two neighbours in North-east Asia will ease tensions in the region and provide impetus for strengthening regional networks.

5. Mr Abe's conservative agenda

With the Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner Komeito once more in control of the Lower House, Mr Abe will be further emboldened to pursue his long-term conservative agenda, such as revising the war-renouncing Peace Constitution.

First, he can be expected to implement the July Cabinet decision to allow the Japanese military to engage in collective self-defence through a reinterpretation of the Constitution.

Next on the cards is likely to be a referendum to loosen conditions for revising the Constitution itself.