A lack of a strong opposition helped his ruling coalition government, led by the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, retain its super majority in the lower house of parliament on Sunday. That's despite waning public appeal for the 63-year-old leader amid a string of scandals.
"This is a curious election, the LDP had a landslide with a prime minister who's quite unpopular," said Gerald Curtis, a political science professor at Columbia University. "The overwhelming opinion is that Abenomics has not been a great success but everything the opposition offers as an alternative would be much worse."
Only half of citizens endorsed Abe's job performance, according to a Gallup poll conducted between April and July. Not much has changed since: Around 59 percent of the public don't approve of Abe, local broadcaster NHK reported on Sunday. Meanwhile, a Kyodo survey conducted from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 showed 46 percent of respondents disapproved of Abe's administration, versus the 40 percent who expressed support.
Sunday's victory "was not necessarily an endorsement of Abe personally," explained Tobias Harris, Japan vice president at advisory firm Teneo Intelligence. "If you talk to voters, there are a lot of people who are uneasy about the various influence-peddling allegations that came up over the past year."