I don’t think I’ve made it all that unclear that I don’t like Abe. As a Prime Minister, he’s usually given more credit than his real due. Most of the social changes done under his tenure have happened more in spite of him and the LDP rather than because of him. The dinosaurs of by gone ages continue to move their feet through sand to make any kind of real progress into the modern era, but since they are moving at all they are cheered for “doing their best.”
He suffered from the past year of the Cherry Blossom Party scandal, wherein money exchanged hands that was the property of tax payers, and without a prosecutor in the pocket that could get him out of it Abe was haunted. The idea of a politician getting to suffer consequences for such things in the Trump era of corruption as default is at best a pipe dream, but still he couldn’t manage to escape the reporters on the subject.
With the pandemic, it depends on which person you ask as to whether Abe’s responses were overblown, just right, or not enough. I’m in the not enough camp, finding the idea of an economic advisor put in charge of COVID19 response very telling (and said economic advisor completely re-doing the team to add more stooges to the pot so no State of Emergency can happen again). Schools, shops, restaurants, none of them are closed now when the virus is still very much active. Since the mortality rate is “so low” with only about 1,300 deaths, Abe and Koike and all the rest have decided it’s worth the risk to keep things open.
The whole Abe-no-mask guffaw that happened over the course of March to literally now has also been lambasted at every turn. The masks were a relic of the 80’s that were too small for most adult faces, moldy masks made their way to pregnant women, and in general most ended up getting donated to homeless than on people’s faces. It was considered a huge waste of tax payer money (funny how that keeps happening) and in general an overall failure. Money that could’ve been better spent helping bars and restaurants stay closed down during the pandemic to limit the spread of the virus went to this horribly wasteful effort.
The whole “Abenomics” initiative is lauded for great change in the economy, when really all Abe did was finally get Japan to recognize that the international economy is on equal footing with domestic economies. Some reporters might want to make it sound like breaking news that “imports finally get more approval” is such a great move, but the international economy is pivotal towards getting most countries out of debt with other nations, and ya know, getting countries out of a recession?
All of this being said, I think Abe did want to do right by Japan. Unlike some country leaders out there I have already named, Abe intended for this country to fare better after he was gone than when he came into the position. For all that I think his accomplishments were minimal, he deserves a modicum of applause for improving things to a point where someone else taking over doesn’t feel like a decision that will leave the country in tatters.
Quite the opposite, because even though he is getting flack for resigning without having groomed a successor, I think there are plenty of awfully useless politicians who will also attempt to perform the bare minimum that are at the ready to campaign as the best replacements. Suga looks like the new favored one to take the job, and sure, why not.
Just anyone but Taro Aso, fuck that guy.
Regardless, Abe stepping down does leave me with questions. Will the next Prime Minister give a damn? Will Japan stick with this international approach or revert to isolation under nationalism pressure? Will the LDP pick the best person for the job or the person they can best control? No answers as of yet, but as someone who can’t vote in this country I just get to sit and watch the show. I can only hope whoever comes next will try to do more, or at the very least continue to do the minimum.