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Short Cuts: From high plans into deep troubles

 Shinzo Abe (photo via Wikipedia) 

Remember the Shinzo Abe from a couple of months ago? Exploding of self-confidence, wanting to give Japan a “new identity”, not stopping short of denying Japanese military involvement into forcing foreign women into sexual slavery during World War II. A new star-poliitician seemed to emerge over Asia then.

Today, the star does not shine so bright anymore as it was all downhill for Mr Abe after that.

First, the United States quietly overruled his veto against a deal with North Korea. Then, even worse, the cabinett he chose completely fell apart: First, the Minister for Reforms and the head of the tax-authorities had to resign because of a corruption scandal. Afterwards, the minister for health called women “birth machines”when talking about the low fertility rates in the country. Another low came when the minister for agriculture hanged himself when he found himself in the midst of a corruption scandal.

Mr Abe’s government had to take even more blows when it became public that details of around 50 million pension files got lost, even though predecessors of Mr Abe’s party were not completely to blame for it. Last week, the approval rating of Mr Abe’s team hit the bottom when his defence minister Fumio Kyuma had to resign after claiming that “throwing the atom bombs [on Japanese cities] was inevitable”, therefore breaking a political taboo about the country’s handling of World War II.

This week, opposition continued to put pressure on the government by asking for the resignation of the new farming minister; some Japanese MPs of Mr Abe’s own party already consider Mr Abe a “Dead Man Walking”, even though parliamentary elections on July 29th are not likely to seal his fate.

But singing Mr Abe’s swan song might indeed be too early: Him and his party may suffer of low approval ratings, but the oppositional Social Democrats (DPJ) always deliver bad results in elections and do not have any charismatic politicians in their camp. On the other hand, even though internal Party rivals are getting into gear, Mr Abe’s LDP lacks of personal alternatives as well. Voters are used to the LDP having troubles and lacking a visionary leadership the well-liked PM Junichiro Koizumi embodied.

So, just twelve moths after Mr Koizumis departure, Japan may finally find itself in a leader-crisis again anyway – with or without Mr Abe.

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