Days after establishing a record for the longest uninterrupted run as Japanese prime minister–nearly eight years–Abe announced last week he was resigning because of a debilitat- ing flare-up of esophageal disorders. That same condition caused Abe to depart of- fice in 2007, a year into his first semester as
prime minister. In his second tenure, Abe helped finish years of deflation and stagnation through his”Abenomics” program, a combination of monetary easing and amped-up government spending. Abe,
65, additionally made Japan”more autonomous in matters of defense and foreign policy” but neglected to reach”his biggest ambition”: amending the nation’s 1947 pacifist constitution, which bans Japan from having army forces with offensive abilities.
Most important, he’s maintained the U.S.-Japanese alliance during the tempestuous Trump age, playing several rounds of golf with the American president.
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Nevertheless Abe is deeply unpopular in the home, stated the Asahi Shimbun in an editorial, and would probably have sat out another elec- tion, which has to be held by October 2021. His”awkward response” to the pandemic–which in- cluded giving every household two too small fabric masks–“further eroded public support for his leadership.” And instead of utilizing the dominance of his conservative Liberal Democratic Party to push essential modifications to social security, Abe squandered his legislative bulk on”a handful of controversial policy
Initiatives,” such as a national security legislation that allows Japan to send military aid to other nations.
His critics accuse the prime minister of ducking out on his many scandals,
Said the Mainichi Shimbun. Charges of cronyism have dogged Abe for decades, in- cluding allegations he pulled strings to get a buddy to get a veterinary school opened. However, the worst scandal was”the heavily discounted sale” of property in 2016 into Moritomo Gakuen,a healer that conducts a string of private schools. Abe insisted he had nothing to do with the sale–which stored Gakuen a trendy
$7.5 million–and that it was just coincidence that his wife, Akie, had been invited to function as the principal at an elementary school Gakuen had planned for the site. Later it emerged that Fi- nance Ministry documents about the sale was doctored. The local official accountable committed suicide, and his widow considers that he cooked the books at Abe’s direction.
In the end, stated The Japan Times, Abe could be remembered not only for any policy but only for enduring. Earlier Abe returned to power at 2012, Japan had churned through six prime ministers in six decades. His album tenure didn’t heal all of Japan’s economic ills, but it brought stability and”contributed to the country’s improved presence on the diplomatic phase.” Abe once declared memorably into the U.S. Congress,”Japan is back.” If Japan’s improved stature continues under his successor, that will be a worthy heritage.