Analysis: Japan's Abe rolls out strategic PR, policy campaign

Sun Jan 13, 2013 3:54pm EST
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By Linda Sieg

TOKYO (Reuters) - Buoyed by a December election landslide, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is rolling out a comprehensive PR strategy mixing Facebook, public appearances and policy announcements to prop up voter ratings ahead of a crucial July poll in an effort to avoid becoming just the latest of the country's short-term leaders.

Backed by media-savvy advisers, Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) hope to stay in power long enough to implement a broader agenda going well beyond reviving a stagnant economy to altering a pacifist constitution, seeking a bigger global security role and revising Japan's take on its wartime history.

The strategy, a far cry from the often mixed and amateurish messages of Japan's revolving door leaders, is aimed at giving the LDP and its coalition partner a good shot at winning a July upper house poll to take control of both houses of parliament.

"They are not only being strategic in what they announce and when - taking time for people to digest the announcements - but they are being strategic in how they talk about things," said Deborah Hayden, regional director at the Japan office of Edelman, the world's largest PR firm.

"They're giving people a sense of what it means - the 'whys' rather than just 'here are the facts'."

The LDP-led bloc has a two-thirds majority in the lower house - big enough to override most legislative objections by the upper chamber - but a majority in both houses would make it easier to push through policies, and holding two-thirds in both chambers would open the door to revising the 1947 U.S.-drafted constitution for the first time.

"Only after winning in the lower and then the upper house can we manage parliament with stability and carry out bold policies," Abe told NHK public TV on Sunday.

"LIKE" THE PM   Continued...

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a news conference at his official residence in Tokyo January 11, 2013. REUTERS/Issei Kato