Shinzo Abe was re-elected head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Thursday and is expected to quickly attempt to follow through on a campaign promise to revise the nation’s pacifist constitution.
Mr Abe took 553 of the 807 votes available to politicians in the LDP and members of the party in regional blocks, handily defeating his sole challenger, Shigeru Ishiba, a former defence minister.
As well as reinforcing his control over a party that has been in power since December 2012, the win means Mr Abe is on course to become Japan’s longest-serving prime minister.
Combined with the LDP’s firm grip on power in both houses of the Diet and the fact that Japan’s next general election does not have to be called until 2021, the victory means that Mr Abe is likely in November next year to surpass the 2,886 days that Taro Katsura spent as prime minister over three terms from 1902.
Mr Abe, who turns 64 on Friday, has ridden out two scandals alleging he influenced ministry decisionsfor old friends but remains popular with the public largely because the domestic economy is doing well.