JAPAN’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could be given a chance to stay in power until 2021, making him the nation’s longest-serving post-war leader.
According to the Financial Times, the ruling Liberal Democratic party (LDP) formally approved extending term limits for its leader, allowing the head of its party to serve up to three consecutive three-year terms instead of two.
The business and economic daily claims analysts expect Abe to remain in power until 2021 due to his high approval ratings during his four years in office and because there are no challengers to Abe within his ruling party.
Abe would have been forced to step down as party leader and prime minister in September next year if it were not for the new rule.
Analysts also cite weak and disorganised opposition parties as another reason boosting the extension of Abe’s term.
According to Reuters, the extension could give Abe a chance to achieve his goal of revising the post-war constitution which was drafted by the U.S., a constitution which has never been amended since it took effect in 1947.
The change in question refers to revising the constitution’s Article 9 which limits the military, an issue which continues to be divisive domestically, especially in the face of China and North Korea’s increasing military development.
Abe labelled Pyongyang’s test launch of a ballistic missile last month as absolutely “intolerable” and called on North Korea to comply with United Nations Security Council Resolutions.
However, Abe is not without scandal despite his steady leadership.
He has been dragged into a scandal involving a land deal benefitting a private school with a nationalist agenda and links to his wife. He denies any wrongdoing.
Political analysts believe Abe can ride out the storm, but the scandal could hurt his popularity if it drags on.