The Abe administration has gone into negative territory in the latest polls, but those same polls indicate a massive coalition victory. That says it all. But what does it mean? PM Abe becomes even more appreciative of the Komeito/Sokagakkai handicap, that’s what it means. The policy changes will be marginal, a little more give on social spending and consumption tax exemptions and bending on national security. But it will put to rest any thoughts from the likes of Yoshimi Watanabe and his now-defunct Your Party or the octogenarian Party for Future Generations to replace Komeito in the ruling coalition.
Looking ahead, the coalition needs to win 316—including the nominally independent lower house president’s seat as well as Fukuoka District 1, where two LDP party members will be duking it out as independents in what is the single most exciting (exciting, that is, if you are a borderline-insane Japan election otaku) race to settle a two-generation feud between two LDP local powers—of the 475 lower house seats, a supermajority for the day if and when it loses the 2016 triennial election for half of the upper house and the simple majority that it holds there. The upper house is structured to give any opposition better odds than the upper house, an edge that is likely to be heightened under new rules that will be in place by then to comply with Supreme Court pressure. With Abe on target to gain a new 3-year term as LDP president next year, it is likely that the collation will be going into the next lower house general election under the Abe administration. If support for the Abe administration languishes and the DPJ, the Innovation Party, and any other bandwaggoners get their act together by then, the coalition can easily lose its upper house majority. It’ll be ugly enough needing a lower house override to pass must-pass legislation. Without the supermajority, it’s going to be good-bye Abenomics, hello Abebama-Lite, in a very twisted Diet.