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  1. Japan Main Page
  2. Japan Expands Its Empire
  3. Japan Tests Its Military Might
  4. Economic Recovery Is Followed by Deep Recession
  5. Succession of Prime Ministers Meet Only Fleeting Popularity
  6. Scandals Taint Leadership
  7. Tsunami Devastates Japan and Causes Nuclear Disaster
  8. Tension Increases with Asian Neighbors Over Islands
  9. Noda Wins Party Leadership Vote, but Faces Strong Opposition
  10. Shinzo Abe Becomes Prime Minister Again in Late 2012
  11. Ongoing Fukushima Leak Declared an Emergency
  12. Japan Lifts Decades Old Arms Ban
  13. China, South Korea, and Japan Hold First Foreign Minister Talks in Three Years
  14. Military Legislation Sparks Protests
Noda Wins Party Leadership Vote, but Faces Strong Opposition

On Sept. 21, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda won re-election as president of the Democratic Party (DPJ) of Japan, the country's governing party. Noda's victory came at an uncertain time for his party, which had seen a dip in polls and approval ratings. Noda's approval rating was also low going into the election due to his inability to take a clear stance on Japan's nuclear energy policy, stimulate a shaky economy, and resolve the gridlock in Parliament.

Headed into his second term, Noda faced an escalating feud with China over a group of islands in the East China Sea, a feud which sparked protests throughout China. He also faced opposition in Parliament going into his second term. The Liberal Democratic Party blocked several of his first term policies. Noda was able to pass a controversial ten percent sales tax increase, but only by promising to set a date soon for nationwide elections.

Another obstacle facing Noda was the Sept. 2012 election of Shinzo Abe to lead the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Japan's main opposition party. The election gave Abe the chance to become prime minister again. Abe was prime minister in 2006, but he left the position a year later due to health issues. Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party could win big in the upcoming nationwide elections, especially since Noda's approval rating has continued to decrease. Abe's rise could be a cause for concern when it comes to the country's rising tension with China and its other neighbors. In 2006, when Abe became prime minister, he called for an unapologetic, tougher Japan.

In reaction to general dissatisfaction with the Japanese political system, Toru Hashimoto, the mayor of Osaka, launched a new political party in September. The Japan Restoration Party (JRP) billed itself as a conservative, free-market party which will refashion the parliament. The JRP immediately lured seven parliamentarians from the more mainstream political groups, including the DPJ and LDP.

Next: Shinzo Abe Becomes Prime Minister Again in Late 2012
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