There has long been speculation about the health of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – no one is in office while in the country. Now he wants to quit his job.
Japan’s right-wing Conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to resign on health grounds. The Japanese media reported unanimously on Friday. He wanted to remain in office until a successor was found.
Abe had repeatedly gone to hospital for examinations in the past few days for reasons unknown. The 65-year-old had recently reached historic point as his country’s longest-serving prime minister. He has been in office since 2012. Most recently, there were unconfirmed reports that he was spitting blood in his office early last month.
Abe’s chronic problems
That month, he went to hospital repeatedly, officially for “regular health checks”. There were repeated questions about Abe’s health after he abruptly resigned after his first short term of just a year in 2007 due to chronic bowel problems.
Japan’s first head of government, born after World War II, can look back on a mixed record from his record-breaking tenure. With the support of the state media, he had raised hopes of an end to the decades of deflation and stagnation not only in his own country with his economic policies dubbed “Abenomics,” consisting of cheap money, debt-funded economic injections and the promise of structural reforms. Abe also opened his land to tourism. The boom brought a lot of money into the country.
Critics complained about the unequal distribution of profits
The third largest economy in the world under Abe has indeed experienced its longest growth phase in years, the stock market was booming. The companies had also generally become very profitable and started to invest again in their own countries, also given the uncertainty caused by protectionism in the US.
At the same time, however, Abenomics has caused profits to be unevenly distributed in recent years, critics complained. One third of the workforce in Japan has no permanent job. However, the long growth phase came to an abrupt end after a VAT hike at the end of last year, the trade war between the US and China and last but not least the Corona crisis. The world’s third largest economy, ahead of Germany, went into deep recession. Abe himself recently spoke about the worst crisis of the post-war period.
Repeated nepotism scandals also overshadowed Abe’s tenure. In addition, there has recently been criticism of his approach to the Corona crisis. What is especially bitter for Abe, however, is that he failed to achieve his political life goal during his tenure: a revision of the pacifist post-war constitution. He believes that the post-war constitution does not correspond to that of an independent nation, as it was imposed on Japan in 1946 by the US occupying power.
Abe had driven the first bets. So he simply “reinterpreted” the constitution to expand the role of the military. Despite strong resistance from the population, he enforced security laws that made combat missions abroad possible. The ban on arms exports was relaxed and a law was passed to protect state secrets, reminding critics of the period leading up to World War II.
Abe did all this to justify the increased tension in the region. But his nationalist goals never received strong popular support. Many citizens are dissatisfied with his policy. His research values had recently dropped significantly during the Corona crisis. But many do not see a real alternative in the opposition. This, too, was one of the reasons Abe could have ruled for so long. Now his ruling party LDP must find a successor.