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Ishiba cannot rival Abe for Japan leadership yet

Friday, August 4, 2017

Subject

A profile of Shigeru Ishiba.

Significance

Ishiba was runner-up to Abe in the 2012 leadership contest for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and since then has positioned himself to replace Abe as party leader and prime minister should Abe's popularity falter. A poll last month showed that 20.4% of the public wanted Ishiba as prime minister compared with Abe's 19.7%, a dramatic swing since December, when Abe had 34.5% and Ishiba just 10.9%.

Impacts

  • Security policy is Ishiba's strength; he has well-developed views and a good sense of what is realistic.
  • Ishiba's critique of Abenomics is lucid, but he has yet to offer a clear alternative.
  • Washington would likely welcome an Ishiba government since he has good connections in the US defence establishment.
  • Ishiba's Christianity may also win him points in Washington.
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