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Shinzo Abe resigned
Article added on September 12, 2007
  
On September 12, 2007 the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced on TV that he will resign because “in the present situation, it is difficult to push ahead with effective policies that win the support and trust of the public”.

He had become Japan's youngest post-war prime minister on September 26, 2006. Since then, already for of ministers were forced to resign because of several scandals. One minister even committed suicide because of corruption allegations. The fifty million missing pension records were not helpful either.

Already on December 27, 2006 Genichiro Sata, the minister for administrative reform, resigned amid allegations of irregular funding. On Janury 27, 2007 Hakuo Yanagisawa, the health minister, called women “breeding machines”. The uproar created by his remark forced him to resign.
On May 28, 2007 Toshikatsu Matsuoka committed suicide because of his involvement in a political funding scandal. On July 3, 2007 Fumio Kyuma, the defense minister resigned over his remark that the U.S. nuclear bombings of Japan “couldn't be helped”. On August 1, 2007 Norihiko Akagi, the newly appointed minister of agriculture resigned after being accused of financial irregularities. After the Upper House election, Shinzo Abe reshuffled his cabinet on August 27, 2007 for a fresh start. Only one week later, on September 3, Takehiko Endo, the new minister of agriculture resigned after admitting that a farm group he was heading was involved in a financial scandal.

After the Japanese Upper House election of July 29, 2007, in which his party, the LDP, suffered a terrible defeat, losing control of the Upper House for the first time in its history, not only the opposition asked for his resignation. The night of the defeat, high ranking members of the LDP asked Shinzo Abe to step down. The Prime Minister withstood the first tempest, but not for long. Some people suggested that not only his political will and his psychological strength, but also his health had been undermined by recent attacks on his position.

The nationalist Shinzo Abe himself created irritations, not only among his fellow Japanese. Unlike his predecessor Koizumi, he decided not to visit the Yasakuni Shrine. However, already in his first month as prime minister, he announced on September 29, 2006 his plan to revise the 1947 pacifist constitution of Japan. In reality, Japan has of course already an army. The revision of the constitution would mainly allow a larger involvement of Japan in international diplomatic and military affairs; Japan could also become a more useful ally of NATO forces.

Extremely damaging were Shinzo Abe's remarks on March 5, 2007 that there is no proof that Japan army and government had forced (especially Korean) women to serve as sex slaves (euphemistically called
“comfort women”) during the Second World War.

Shinzo Abe is Japan's youngest post-Second World War prime minster, and the first head of government born after WWII. He is the the son of Shintaro Abe (1924-1991), who served as minister of foreign affairs in the cabinet of Yasuhiro Nakasone and as General Secretary of the LDP. Shintaro Abe was married to the daughter of Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi. Shinzo Abe's grandfather was a brewer of soy sauce and sake and was a member of parliament.



Shinzo Abe's predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, has set a new standard when it comes to public appeal of a politician. LDP leaders tend to be dull apparatchiks. After the colorful Koizumi, Abe had a tough job to appeal to voters. The scandals haunting his administration and cabinet gave him the rest. Even in Japan, a successful leading politician has to be able to catch the voters attention and transmit a strong message. If the LDP should fall back to a grey technocrat, the next election will bring another disaster for the ruling party.

Taro Aso (*1940), the current secretary general of the LDP, is considered the man most likely to replace Abe. As a former member of the government, as minister of foreign affairs under Koizumi and Abe, he has the necessary experience of an executive office.

However, Taro Aso distinguished himself with racist remarks in 2001 when he stated that a member of the Japanese ethnic minority of the Burakumin should not become prime minister. Taro Aso also repeatedly outed himself as a nationalist, e.g. advising the Japanese Emperor to visit the Yasukuni shrine; unfortunately, the emperor was wise enough not to follow such an advice.

An important part of the Japanese society - last but not least among LDP voters - is still not ready to admit the Japanese crimes and war crimes of the colonial and Second World War period. Despite the scandals and gaffes by the current government, the opposition seems to be unfit to challenge the LDP's leadership. As always, an LDP prime minister can only be sunk by his own party, as happened to Shinzo Abe.

The LDP will chose a new party leader next week. The leader is virtually guaranteed to become the next Japanese prime minister because the LDP controls the Lower House.

Japanese sheet music.





Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
English Politics History Art Film Music Lifestyle Travel
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© Copyright www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.