The Shifting Meaning of Japan’s Snap Election

Tobias Harris

Publications The Shifting Meaning of Japan’s Snap Election

When reports surfaced last week that Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was planning to hold snap elections, it seemed a low-risk way to expand his mandate and push for a delay in raising the consumption tax again, even in the face of objections from within his own party. Opposition parties looked in no shape to win, and Mr. Abe’s popularity was relatively high. But with new economic results this week showing Japan to be in recession, the results of the election are now less certain.

December’s general election will likely be a referendum on Abenomics, Mr. Abe’s bold mix of monetary easing, fiscal stimulus and structural reform. While his policies have buoyed the stock market and boosted the profits of large exporters, they have done little to improve the fortunes of middle-class families. Their incomes have lagged behind inflation and have been squeezed by costlier imports and an earlier consumption-tax hike, levied in April.

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