For Shinzo Abe, The Time Is Now
Abe’s recent resounding re-election has bought him time to implement reforms and he should seize the opportunity now before it is too late.
He needs to make the economy better able to suit the burdens placed on it by an increasingly aged society. This can only be done by wide-scale reform, which is easier to push through when you have political time, which Abe now has since the next election is scheduled for 2020.
Over 65s Conservative on Reform Programs & Larger Share of Electorate by Next Election
Why the imperative? Older populations tend to be more conservative on issues that directly impact them, e.g. maintenance of benefits and mandatory retirement ages, and would thus be less likely to vote in reforms in the future. By the time of the next election, over 65’s will account for around 45% of the population (39% in 2014), making a sizeable political constituency.
Umeda: Elderly Are More Politically Active
Also, as recent research by Michio Umeda shows, older people have a much larger influence on the elections process because:
There are more elderly than younger voters.
Elderly voters are much more likely to vote than the younger ones.
Elderly voters have clear preferences on welfare issues.
Elderly voters always care about “welfare” issues when they make voting decisions.
The electoral system gives additional power to elderly and/or more active voters.
Therefore, Abe needs to make progress on his reform program as quickly as possible. Delaying now will only make the task more difficult in the future.