Abe has explained that he called the snap election to obtain a mandate to redirect revenue from a proposed consumption tax hike in 2019.
“More cynically, it helps Abe capitalize on rising popularity in the wake of the North Korea crisis,” echoed Rob Carnell, head of ING’s Asia research.
Over the last month, Pyongyang has fired two ballistic missiles over the world’s third-largest economy and recently hinted it may test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean. Japan is the only country to have experienced atomic bombings and Abe’s hard-line stance on the matter has resonated among citizens fearful of a nuclear warfare repeat.
And while a hefty chunk of the population still remain uncomfortable with Abe’s nationalist tendencies, “even his detractors are hesitant to criticize him on defense and security issues” amid the current Korean Peninsula crisis, Seaman stated.
According to a Nikkei survey over the weekend, foreign affairs and national security were ranked as the second-most important issue for the election campaign, coming in below social security policies.