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, whe…