Abe Resigns. Ghost of Koizumi Remains.
Abe resigns in Japan (The Guardian).
Japanese Prime Minister, Abe Shinzo resigned in Japan on the 11th. This followed shortly after he threatened to resign if the Diet failed to reauthorize a bill allowing Japan’s Self Defense Forces to continue refueling efforts in the Indian Ocean, an important help in the war on terror. The issue became a proxy referendum on his leadership, and he announced his resignation on the 11th, looking teary-eyed and exhausted, but did not bow or apologize and accept blame for the election results during his announcement.
He had managed to hold on to power despite the LDP’s withering losses in the late summer elections, but he was hobbled by continued fallout from scandals and more generally his inability to connect with the Japanese public.
Abe was interested in repairing Japan’s foreign relations with China and other Asian countries and had made headway on this, but for the Japanese he seemed to prefer the glamour of that end of the job at the expense of domestic reform. The Wall Street Journal echoed this and in an editorial on the 12th, accused Abe of straying away from the domestic reform agenda of Koizumi, and said that he was punished by voters for it.
This is one part of it, but there are two more serious problems:
1) Koizumi is a tough act to follow;
2) Abe lacked true leadership.
Though it will be good for Japan to make a fresh start in leadership, I worry that the kinds of gains that Koizumi had made in strengthening the office of the Prime Minister will be reversed by this debacle. Such a quick turnover of leaders also makes it difficult to form coherent domestic and foreign policy.
According to Japanese news, some factions had urged Koizumi to return to power, but he refused. Whoever is elected, the ghost of Koizumi will likely haunt the next prime minister as well.
Filed under: News, Politics (Japan) | 1 Comment