Yes, I mean it exactly this way. Yesterday, the LDP suffered a crushing defeat in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly Election as widely expected and predicted here on Saturday. And the short-term winner is: the European Union.

Later, this week the EU and Japan will likely announce the conclusion of their negotiations of the free-trade agreement (or EPA) at the G20 Summit in Hamburg (predicted here already a month ago). As of yesterday, both sides were still wrangling over car imports into the EU and food imports into Japan and other controversial topics.

The Tokyo election gives the EU a very strong hand in last-minute negotiations as Abe desperately needs good news at home, read a successful conclusion of the EPA. Koike’s victory and even more so the scale of the LDP’s defeat yesterday have raised the heat on the Abe government and thus the need to show some positive results.

I am not sure whether the EU officials had planned it this way and waited with final concessions till after the Sunday election (actually I doubt it). But if they prolonged their final decisions that long on purpose, they did that very well. Chapeau!

Now it will be Abe who will blink or – in other words – “expect less Japanese cars come to Europe but more European cheese finding its way to Nippon” (only half-kidding).


Jochen Legewie

Jochen Legewie

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