TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was re-elected as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on Sept. 20 for his third consecutive term, defeating challenger Shigeru Ishiba by a wide margin.
Abe, 63, won 329 votes from Diet members and 224 from party members for a total of 553. His new term runs for three years, until September 2021. He is now on target to become the longest-serving prime minister in Japan, a position currently held by Taro Katsura (1848-1913), whom Abe will catch up with in November 2019.
Ishiba, 61, former secretary-general of the LDP, secured 73 votes from Diet members and 181 from party members to give him a total of 254.
After the vote, Abe commented, "I'd like to praise Mr. Ishiba for a brave battle. I will put my whole body and soul into my duties." The premier expressed a desire to put efforts into addressing issues surrounding domestic and foreign affairs.
The party presidential race came as Abe faced the end of his term in September, and the campaigning by candidates was the first for the party in six years. Abe previously defeated Ishiba in 2012 and was re-elected without a vote in 2015.
In the latest race, Abe had promoted his economic and diplomatic achievements. He also called for the amendment of war-renouncing Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution to make specific reference to Japan's Self-Defense Forces.
Ishiba, meanwhile, had promoted the vitalization of regional areas, calling for a review of "Abenomics," the premier's economic policy mix. He also called for a "return of trust" to the prime minister's office, following scandals relating to school operators Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Educational Institution that extended to Abe and Abe's wife Akie.
Following his defeat, Ishiba stated, "It was a presidential election showing that the LDP is certainly not all one color."
Abe, however, stated, "The battle is over. Let's work hand in hand in everything for the public and build a new country."