A surprise resignation given the timing. Scandals can bring down a government and pave the way for a new one. What sort of backroom LDP pressure made him resign now, rather than later? After all, he did not quit after the July Upper House election which bloodied LDP’s nose. If that could not oust him from being PM, what else could so suddenly? What lessons for Singapore? Looking back at the MIW’s version of Singapore history, the MIW was never rocked by a huge scandal before. Perhaps the closest thing to a full-blown scandal was the late Teh Cheang Wan’s case. He committed suicide before political damage or leverage, depending on where one is coming from, could take effect.
Japan’s PM quits after scandals and poll defeat
Justin McCurry in Tokyo
Thursday September 13, 2007
Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said yesterday that he would resign to take responsibility for his scandal-ridden party’s disastrous showing in recent national elections, sparking a new round of political turmoil.
Mr Abe said he hoped that his departure would also end the political deadlock over the future of Japan’s logistical support for US forces in Afghanistan.
“In the present situation, it is difficult to push ahead with effective policies that win the support of the public,” he said at a televised news conference. “We need a change in this situation. I decided a quick decision was necessary, and that a further delay would cause political confusion. I find myself unable to keep my [political] promises – I have become an obstacle to fulfilling those promises.”
Mr Abe, 52, who took office less than a year ago, said he was “tired” and was losing his appetite for political conflict.
The decision comes weeks after his Liberal Democratic party [LDP] suffered a devastating defeat in upper house elections, and amid doubts among party colleagues about Mr Abe’s ability to lead in the wake of financial scandals involving several cabinet appointees.
Possible successors in an LDP leadership election scheduled for next Wednesday are Taro Aso, the hawkish former foreign minister, and Sadakazu Tanigaki, who served as finance minister under Mr Abe’s predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi.
“After the upper house election, I’ve been saying a change of policy was needed, and we need to create an environment to do that,” Mr Tanigaki told reporters.
Kaoru Yosano, the chief cabinet secretary, hinted that health concerns may also have been a factor in Mr Abe’s decision. He is rumoured to be suffering from a chronic stomach ailment.
Speculation was mounting last night that Mr Abe’s decision may have been prompted by the prospect of damaging revelations about his private finances, with one newspaper reporting yesterday that a weekly magazine had uncovered evidence of tax evasion and was due to publish details this weekend.
Mr Abe had hinted last weekend that he was prepared to resign if he failed to push through an extension to Japan’s naval refuelling mission in the Indian Ocean in support of US-led forces in Afghanistan.The Democrats, the main opposition, have threatened to block the legislation in the upper house, where they hold a majority. Their leader, Ichiro Ozawa, is said to have refused an offer of talks with Mr Abe yesterday to try to break the deadlock.
Mr Abe’s decision to announce his resignation as parliament was preparing to debate the refuelling mission, which ends on November 1, took many by surprise. He said a new leader would stand a better chance of reaching a compromise with the opposition. “I have given a lot of thought as to how Japan should continue its fight against terrorism,” he said, at times appearing on the verge of tears. “Japan must continue its fight against terrorism under a new prime minister.”
Mr Abe, Japan’s youngest postwar prime minister, began his term of office well with fence-mending trips to China and South Korea, earning him approval ratings of more than 60%. But his authority was severely weakened by a series of gaffes and scandals that led to the resignations of four cabinet ministers and the suicide of another. His fate was effectively sealed at the end of July when the LDP was trounced in upper house elections, amid public anger at the government’s slow response to an administrative foul-up involving the loss of more than 50m pension premium records.