Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Two Nations--Similar Problem--Different Outcome

Japan's Prime Minister Resigns

By Blaine Harden Washington Post Foreign Service Wednesday, September 12, 2007; 6:54 AM

TOKYO, Sept. 12 -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who resigned abruptly on Wednesday after a year in power, has for months been a walking political corpse.

His party, which has dominated Japanese politics since World War II, was crushed in a July parliamentary election -- a humiliation that had forced previous prime ministers to quit without delay.

But that was just part of Abe's predicament. His judgment in picking a cabinet had proven faulty in the extreme, as scandals and ineptitude had pushed four ministers to resign and one to kill himself.

With poll numbers dipping below 30 percent, he had became an object of ridicule, derided as a "spoiled little boy" by cultural critics and broadly criticized for a nationalist agenda that neglected a tightening economic squeeze felt by many Japanese, especially in rural areas. Public faith in his competence collapsed, polls showed, when he failed to respond aggressively last spring to revelations that 50 million pension records had been misfiled.

Yet Abe, the grandson of a prime minister, the son of a foreign minister and at 52 the youngest prime minister since the war, had clung tenaciously to power until Wednesday afternoon, when he unexpectedly announced what has been obvious to the Japanese people since mid-summer.

"In the present situation it is difficult to push ahead with effective policies that win the support and trust of the public," Abe said during a nationally televised press conference. "I need to change the situation to break the deadlock."

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Yet our president, George Bush,

  • the grandson of a Senator, the son of a President, clings tenaciously to power. . .
  • has for months been a walking political corpse . . .
  • his judgment in picking a cabinet had proven faulty in the extreme, as scandals and ineptitude had pushed four ministers to resign . . .
  • poll numbers dipping below 30 percent, he had became an object of ridicule, derided as a "spoiled little boy" by cultural critics and broadly criticized for a nationalist agenda . . .
  • public faith in his competence collapsed, polls showed . . . "
  • "In the present situation it is difficult to push ahead with effective policies that win the support and trust of the public."

The parallels are just too spooky.

Only the outcome is different. In Washington, where if our president declines to resign under the pressures of having consistently and unendingly made derelict his duties to the nation and the House of Representatives fails to impeach, the country is left swinging in the wind.

In Japan, a sense of honor is very much in political play.


* For more in-depth articles by Jim on Things That Make Me Nuts, check out Opinion-Columns.com