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Japan's Elections Rattle China

Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister and president of the Liberal Democratic Party, gestures as he speaks during a news conference following a victory in the upper house elections at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo on July 22
Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister and president of the Liberal Democratic Party, gestures as he speaks during a news conference following a victory in the upper house elections at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo on July 22Photograph by Koichi Kamoshida/Bloomberg

With Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party rolling to a big victory in elections over the weekend, one of the biggest losers could turn out to be the country’s regional rival, China. The LDP, which already was in charge of the lower house of the Diet, regained control of the upper house on Sunday, trouncing the opposition Democratic Party of Japan. The landslide could embolden Abe, who has made no secret of his desire to counter China’s rise by rewriting the pacifist constitution imposed on the Japanese by the Americans after the end of World War II.

Even before the votes were counted, China was showing its unhappiness about Abe’s looming triumph. “To consolidate power, the prime minister and other Japanese politicians wrongfully chose to indulge a rightist tilt and constantly provoke Japan’s neighbors on sensitive territorial and historical issues,” a commentator for the official Xinhua News Agency wrote on Sunday. The article warned “if policymakers in Tokyo believe a potential election win could serve as a warrant for further rash behaviors to strain the ties with Japan’s neighbors, challenge the post-WWII world order, or abandon its pacifist commitment, they risk steering the country further down a wrong path.”