A Note on Shinzo Abe’s Resignation
I can’t claim a deep understanding of what happened with Shinzo Abe that led to his resignation last week as Prime Minister of Japan. There’s unfortunately a language barrier between myself and the kinds of primary sources that I utilize to gain an understanding of English language politics.
What I gather from the international press is thus: He took office a relatively popular guy with high approval ratings, suffered a series of scandals, events, gaffes, and outright screw ups that led to a dramatic reversal of his approval ratings that hurt his party this past July and forced his resignation this last week. I won’t comment upon the precise nature of any of those events because, as I said, I lack the deep understanding necessary to say anything intelligent on the matter. Instead, I’d like to offer what’s to me the most striking thing about his tenure as Prime Minister, from my American perspective: he resigned.
I can’t help but observe that in many respects, the story of Shinzo Abe mirrors the political decline of another world leader, George W. Bush. But whereas Abe is now out of office and Japan has a chance to correct itself under new leadership, the US is stuck with Bush for another 15 months. Unfortunately, Bush lacks the integrity and honor of Shinzo Abe – or Richard Nixon, for that matter – so it seems a deeply unlikely thing that he’ll just do the right thing and resign before the end of his term in 2009. Further, the Democrats in congress lack the integrity and spine to do the right thing and impeach him. The American people, meanwhile, are left with no other option to remove him from office – which means we’re stuck with him.
The world is at a crossroads, and the US is in a critical state. We’re in desperate need of able, competent, and effective leadership, who can see us through this difficult time of military conflict, an imminent energy crunch, global environmental damage and climate change, and shifting economic fortunes. The notion that we have to wait at least another 15 months before any of the critical issues of the day are truly addressed is disturbing. Somehow, some way, the US needs a mechanism that can make what happened in Japan happen here – the removal of a President from office mid-term, when his continued presence becomes so antithetical to the public interest. We could learn a serious lesson from Japan in this regard.