Abe must make efforts to regain public trust after LDP electoral defeat: The Yomiuri Shimbun

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a news conference after close of regular parliament session at his official residence in Tokyo.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a news conference after close of regular parliament session at his official residence in Tokyo.PHOTO: REUTERS

In its editorial on July 05, the The Yomiuri Shimbun says urges the ruling party to be proactive with initiatives to regain public trust.

Once it has been lost, regaining the public's trust is no easy task.

There is no other way but to humbly listen to any criticism while making steady efforts to carry out policies, thereby accomplishing good results.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed repentance to reporters about his Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) crushing defeat in the latest Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election.

"(The election results) must be seriously taken as a stern reprimand delivered to the LDP," he said.

At a liaison conference between the government and the ruling parties, the prime minister emphasised his determination to tackle the situation while calling for cooperation in the endeavour.

"By going back to my first objective set at the time of the change in administrations, I'd like to carefully advance the implementation of polices," he said.

The prime minister should be urged to do what he said.

The causes of the LDP's defeat were mainly linked to issues that have been addressed in national politics.

Voters reacted angrily to the party's conceited attitude cultivated as a result of Abe's predominance in the current political landscape - as shown by, for instance, the Kake Educational Institution problem, a high-handed approach to Diet management, and inappropriate remarks and misconduct by a member of the Cabinet and other party members.

This was symbolised by the fact that exit polls showed that only 50 per cent of pro-LDP voters cast ballots for candidates from the party.

To clear up public distrust, the prime minister must show accountability and produce a steady flow of successful results in his endeavour to promote diplomatic and economic policies.

By the end of the year, the prime minister will submit to the Diet an LDP draft for constitutional amendment that entails such changes as adding stipulations regarding a basis for the Self-Defense Forces to the top law.

He hopes to achieve constitutional revision through a national referendum after getting himself reelected for a third term in the LDP presidential election in September next year. Such a strategy by the prime minister may come to naught unless he wins public support.

The prime minister held top-level talks with Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi in which they reconfirmed cooperation in national politics. It is necessary to promptly normalise relations between the LDP and Komeito, which had broken off its partnership with the former in the metropolitan assembly prior to the election.

The LDP's electoral setback could prompt Komeito to express increasing caution about constitutional amendment.

The LDP should energise its constitutional debate to work out the specifics of the proposed amendment. It is also important to promote active discussions with Komeito, thereby carefully forming a consensus between the ruling parties.

There are growing calls within the LDP for reshuffling the Cabinet and the party's top echelon, with a view to achieving a breakthrough in the situation.

Although such a shake-up is a possible course of action to be taken by the prime minister in reinforcing his leadership and promoting internal unity, he should never casually consider picking high-profile figures just to boost his administration.

In reshuffling the Cabinet and the party leadership, Abe is urged to attach importance to forming a stable structure for strongly carrying out important policies.

The number of seats the leading opposition Democratic Party (DP) has in the assembly was reduced because it could not collect votes cast by people who are critical of the Abe administration.

The DP should take seriously to heart the fact that only a few voters expected to see the DP take power.

Opposition parties have called for such measures as holding deliberations while the Diet is out of session.

The ruling parties must open intensive discussions at budget committee sessions at an early date, and offer concrete answers to the doubts linked to such issues as the Kake school corporation.

When it comes to the next House of Representatives election, attention is being paid as to whether Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites first group), a regional party that took a great leap forward in the assembly election, will seek to take part in national politics.

If it chooses to do so, Tomin First must present a framework of its political beliefs and policies, and not just rely on the favorable winds that have blown for it.

The Yomiuri Shimbun is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 22 news media.