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Abe’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) swept to a two-thirds “super majority” in the 465-seat lower house on October 22. He was reinstated as premier by a huge majority Wednesday and then reappointed all of his cabinet ministers. The 63-year-old is now on track to become Japan’s longest-serving premier. Abe now has the parliamentary numbers to start a process to change Japan’s pacifist constitution — an ambition he has long cherished. But he told reporters he will move cautiously on the divisive issue, saying that he will first seek an open discussion on the subject. Abe also said he will improve the nation’s productivity, offer free early childhood education and expand childcare support. Despite his October poll victory, Abe’s popularity ratings are relatively low and most observers attribute his election success to a weak and fractured opposition. The main opposition party, the Democratic Party (DP), effectively disbanded after Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike launched a new conservative group and vowed to do away with “old school politics”. Several DP lawmakers defected to Koike’s new “Party of Hope” and the more left-leaning MPs formed a new party, the Constitutional Democrats. In the end, Koike’s support imploded, mainly because she failed to stand herself in the election — confusing voters who did not know who would be premier if she won.
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