For those of you who haven’t been following Japanese politics lately, allow me to present a nice introductory set of links.
Sept 10, 2007: Japan’s embattled PM vows to stay
Sept 12, 2007: Japanese prime minister resigns
My first reaction to today’s headline about Abe’s resignation was to be amused, actually, because just last night, I was talking about how there was a rash of prime ministers around the world announcing they wouldn’t be resigning. (On Sept 11, there was this headline from Australia: “Australia’s PM vows not to quit,” which meant for a day the BBC’s Asia-Pacific page had nearly identical headlines from two different countries. But I digress.)
With more seriousness, though, I kinda have to feel bad for the guy. As this helpful BBC timeline of the low points of his tenure reveals, he’s managed to have a lot of unfortunate stuff happen to him and his cabinet during his rather short time in office.
On the other hand, I don’t agree with a lot of his major policies, such as his desire to reform the pacifist clauses of the post-war constitution and promote “patriotism” in the schools, and the way he’s been riding the anti-terrorism train for all its worth, so I’m not that sad to see him go.
The thing that makes him so strange to me, looking at his one-year record, he’s had kind of a bipolar career as PM. (Yes, he seems strange even following after Koizumi and his hair.) He’s militaristic, but refused to visit Yasukuni Shrine, which honors the Japanese war dead, including some war criminals, which was a move that pleased some people in other Asian countries, but then made a horrible gaffe in which he denied that the Japanese troops had used “comfort women” during WWII, which angered all the same Asian countries.
In any case, it’s made for a pretty interesting international news day. I wonder who they’ll pick as his replacement, and if that guy will fare any better in public opinion. Unfortunately, since it’s only been a year since Abe entered office, there isn’t going to be a general election again, and the new person will simply be chosen by Abe’s own party, automatically becoming the PM, and therefore unlikely to have very different views on many issues.
-posted by Dana