Tag Archives: Shinzo Abe

Abe’s Resignation cause chaos among candidates in fight for successor. [Japan]

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The race to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe kicked off informally on Saturday, with several contenders announcing their plans to stand; a day after Japan’s longest-serving leader announced his resignation.

Abe said he was suffering a recurrence of ulcerative colitis, the condition that forced him to cut short his first term in office, but that he would stay on until his successor is decided.

Exactly how the process will unfold was still unclear, with local media reporting on Saturday that several options were being considered.

Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party could opt for a more traditional leadership election, involving lawmakers but also members of the party nationwide.

But the urgency of the situation, as well as the constraints imposed by the coronavirus outbreak, could see the party instead opt to poll only its lawmakers and regional representatives — a faster process.

A decision on how the election will be held, and when, is expected early next week, along with more clarity on who will stand for the post.

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A few would-be candidates have already thrown their hats into the ring, including party policy chief Fumio Kishida, a mild-mannered former foreign minister considered Abe’s personal choice for successor, and ex-defense minister Shigeru Ishiba, who is seen as more popular with voters but commands less party support than some other candidates.

Finance Minister Taro Aso, himself a former prime minister and long considered a likely successor to Abe, has announced he will not stand.

Other possible candidates include powerful chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga, viewed by many as a frontrunner, and current defence minister Taro Kono, a social-media-savvy former foreign minister who is seen as something of a longshot.

File; Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wears a face mask as he enters a venue for his news conference in Tokyo on May 25, 2020. – Japan lifted a nationwide state of emergency over the coronavirus on May 25, gradually reopening the world’s third-largest economy as government officials warned caution was still necessary to prevent another wave. (Photo by KIM KYUNG-HOON / POOL / AFP)

One woman is among those expected to stand so far: Seiko Noda, a former cabinet minister whose chances are thought to be slim.

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No Drastic Changes
Whoever comes out on top, analysts said, little major shift in policy is expected.

“Key policies –- diplomacy and economic measures — won’t be changed drastically,” Shinichi Nishikawa, a professor of political science at Meiji University in Tokyo, told AFP.

“His successor could be a caretaker,” effectively, Nishikawa added, given that the LDP will hold another leadership election in September 2021, with general elections likely the following month.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto, an honorary professor of international politics at the University of Tokyo, said Abe’s successor would not produce any surprises but would face “big challenges”.

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Most immediate will be the ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic, with heavy criticism of Abe’s government so far for policies viewed as contradictory and slow.

But there are also diplomatic challenges on the horizon, including on relations with China.

Ties had been warming, but with rising tensions between Beijing and Washington and concerns domestically about issues including the coronavirus outbreak and the situation in Hong Kong, the next prime minister faces a balancing act.

Abe is also leaving office with the issue of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics still unresolved. The Games were postponed by a year over the pandemic and are now scheduled to open in July 2021, but questions remain about whether the event can be held safely.

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And the next prime minister will inherit an economy that had swung into recession even before the coronavirus crisis hit and may face further hits if additional waves of infection force business shutdowns again this winter.

Tokyo markets slumped on Friday on news of Abe’s resignation but recovered slightly before the end of trade, and economists said disruption would be minimal because the economic policy was not likely to change.

“We believe the current monetary easing policies and expansionary fiscal policies will continue for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic,” wrote Naoya Oshikubo, senior economist at SuMi TRUST.

“Thus the impact on the market should be limited in the mid-to-long term.”


#Newsworthy…

Donald Trump in his highest regard to Japan’s Shinzo Abe amid resignation.

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United States President Donald Trump on Friday paid his “highest respect” to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and voiced concern over his “great friend” resigning for health reasons.

“I want to pay my highest respect to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a very great friend of mine,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One as he returned from a campaign rally in New Hampshire.

“We’ve had a great relationship and I just feel very badly about it, because it must be very severe for him to leave.”

“He loves his country so much and for him to leave, you know, I just can’t imagine what it is. He’s a great gentleman and so I’m just paying my highest respect,” Trump added.

Abe announced earlier he was ending his record-breaking tenure, kicking off a leadership race in the world’s third-largest economy.

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He said he was suffering a recurrence of the ulcerative colitis that forced him to cut short the first term in office, and that he no longer felt able to continue as prime minister.

The two leaders have met several times during the US president’s term, and staffers have hailed the “unprecedented” relationship between Trump and his “golf buddy.”

US President Donald Trump speaks with reporters aboard Air Force One as he flies from Manchester, New Hampshire to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, August 28, 2020, following a campaign rally.
SAUL LOEB / AFP

A Japanese diplomat said last year the frequency of contact demonstrated the “unprecedented level of close personal relations” between the pair.

Trump announced in September last year that the two allies had taken a major step towards sealing a comprehensive new trade deal, after a year of negotiations between the global economic powers.

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Abe was forced to leave office just one year after becoming the country’s youngest-ever prime minister but has since become Japan’s longest-serving premier.

Speculation about his political future had intensified after two recent hospital visits for unspecified health checks, but the resignation was nonetheless a surprise.

He had been expected to stay in office until the end of his term as LDP leader in September 2021.

Even as recently as Friday morning, the government spokesman had appeared to dismiss concerns about Abe’s health and suggested he would stay on.


#Newsworthy…

Angela Merkel devastated amid Shinzo Abe resignation.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday she “regrets” the resignation of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on health grounds, hailing his “fight for multilateralism”.

Merkel said she and her fellow veteran leader in the Group of Seven industrialised nations had a “shared foundation of values”.

“I, of course, regret his resignation and wish him all the best for his health,” she told reporters. “We always worked very, very well together… He was always someone who committed himself to the fight for multilateralism.”


#Newsworthy…

Just in: Japan PM, Shinzo Abe Resigns Over Health Issues

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Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Friday he will resign over health problems, in a development that kicks off a leadership contest in the world’s third-largest economy.

“I have decided to step down from the post of the prime minister,” he told a press conference, saying he was suffering from a recurrence of the ulcerative colitis that ended his first term in office.

Abe said he was receiving a new treatment for the condition, which needed to be administered on a regular basis which would not leave him with sufficient time to discharge his duties.

“Now that I am not able to fulfil the mandate from the people with confidence, I have decided that I should no longer occupy the position of the prime minister.”

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Abe is expected to stay in office until his ruling Liberal Democratic Party can choose a successor, in an election likely to take place among the party’s lawmakers and members.

File photo: Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a press conference at the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo on April 17, 2020, ./AFP

There is no clear consensus on who will succeed him, with likely candidates including Finance Minister Taro Aso and chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga.

Abe, who stepped down as prime minister just one year into his first term, in 2007, offered his apologies for the second resignation.

“I would like to sincerely apologise to the people of Japan for leaving my post with one year left in my term of office, and amid the coronavirus woes, while various policies are still in the process of being implemented,” Abe said, bowing deeply.


#Newsworthy…