Asia St: Japan’s Kishida Faces Further Tests Ahead After LDP Election Victory

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Japan’s Kishida Faces Further Tests Ahead After LDP Election Victory

November 1, 2021

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons).

The BGA Japan team, led by Managing Director Kiyoaki Aburaki, wrote an update to clients on Japan’s latest election. The update addressed what poll results meant for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida as well as what lies ahead for his government and Japan.

Context

Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) secured an absolute majority in the House of Representatives in the October 31 general election. This allowed the LDP-Komeito coalition government and incumbent Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to stay in power.

Kishida will be reappointed prime minister when the Diet convenes on November 10. Although the LDP lost 15 seats (from 276 to 261), its performance was better than expected.

Significance

The election results have created a stable and favorable political environment for Kishida and the LDP. As BGA had expected, the political drama that ensued the September 2021 resignation of former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga generated relatively high public support for Kishida, leading the LDP to victory.

Nevertheless, expectations are running high during Kishida’s political honeymoon period, and Japanese constituents will expect measurable progress on several key issues. Notwithstanding his electoral success, the public approval rating for Kishida’s Cabinet continues to hover around 56 percent since the administration took office last month, and the disapproval rating has already increased significantly.

Implications

To maintain support, Kishida will need to prioritize reform and growth rather than wealth redistribution. This is especially important considering that strong reform messages from the Japan Innovation Party, or “Ishin” — a conservative opposition party — helped increase its seats from 11 to 41 to become the third-largest party in the lower house.

Kishida will need to produce tangible results in several areas including digital transformation, national economic security and green issues to secure an LDP victory in the upcoming upper house election next summer. This will require substantial institutional and regulatory reform and could furnish more opportunities for clients to proactively engage with the government and expand businesses in Japan.

BGA will continue to keep you updated on developments in Japan as they occur. If you have any comments or questions, please contact BGA Japan Managing Director Kiyoaki Aburaki at kaburaki@bowergroupasia.com.