Natural disaster and scandal cause Japanese PM to delay bid for party leadership re-election

Natural disaster and scandal cause Japanese PM to delay bid for party leadership re-election

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe was expected to announce his candidacy for re-election as the head of the Liberal Democratic Party

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Photo: Getty Image/Martin Bureau

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe was expected to announce his candidacy for re-election as the head of the Liberal Democratic Party in Tokyo today. However, flooding in Western Japan and political scandal have delayed his announcement until next month.

Abe is widely expected to seek out another term as LDP leader, hoping to become Japan’s longest-serving PM by 2020. Ongoing investigations into the role of Japan’s first lady in procuring state-owned land for a right-wing school organisation at a fraction of market rates have raised fresh questions of nepotism over the involvement of the PM and key cabinet officials. The involvement and subsequent resignation of Abe’s taxation minister, Nobuhisa Sagawa, makes it likely that there will be questions within both the ruling LDP coalition and the opposition over whether Abe is fit to retain any party leadership responsibilities. However, his high public approval ratings of 52% make it unlikely that this effort will have a significant impact.

With Japan’s economy experiencing one of its longest periods of sustained expansion, rising economic indicators and public support are likely to sustain his approval ratings in the medium-term, highlighting his continued ability to withstand significant political scandals.

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