Japan’s Abe wins 3rd consecutive term as ruling party president

TOKYO – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won a third consecutive term as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on Thursday, which will give him a chance to become the longest-serving prime minister in postwar Japan.

In the two-horse election against former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, Abe secured 553 out of a total of 810 votes, while Ishiba got 254 votes.

Abe, who turns 64 on Friday, stepped down as LDP chief and prime minister in 2007 citing health reasons.

He retook office as prime minister in 2012 after the LDP ousted from power the now-defunct Democratic Party of Japan, and was re-elected unopposed in 2015 for the second consecutive three-year term.

His third consecutive term as LDP president will expire in September 2021, and as the LDP and its coalition partner Komeito control majorities in both chambers of the national parliament, it means that Abe also won the chance to serve as prime minister for the next three years.

The victory on Thursday will also give Abe the opportunity to push for his long-cherished dream of revising Japan’s pacifist Constitution for the first time since it was enacted.

Abe has said last month that the ruling party aims to submit a bill to amend the Constitution in the extraordinary Diet session this autumn.