Japan’s parliament re-elected Shinzo Abe on Wednesday to serve another term as prime minister after his party won a snap election earlier this month. Abe won 328 votes out of the 470 cast by lawmakers in a special session of the lower house today. Since the ruling Liberal Democrats hold only two lower house seats, two other lawmakers also cast votes for Abe.
Following a similar vote by the upper house, Abe will name his cabinet, replacing only his defense minister. The cabinet members are then to be presented in a formal ceremony to Emperor Akihito at the Imperial Palace. The victory by the ruling Liberal Democrats and their coalition partner the Komei Party was viewed as an endorsement by the public of Abe’s strategies for reviving Japan’s stagnant economy, despite a record low turnout.
Former Defense Minister Akinori Eto was among cabinet ministers appointed in a reshuffle in early September. He was one of several ministers whose political funding reports were questioned by opposition lawmakers during the recent parliamentary session. Two resigned their cabinet posts but were re-elected anyway.
The questions over political finance pulled Abe’s popularity ratings lower and were likely a factor in his decision to call the snap election. Analysts said Eto’s handling of the questions was seen as too weak, and that Abe planned to appoint a stronger figure to help handle anticipated fierce questioning over defense-related issues in the next year’s parliamentary debate.