The Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, may be on the verge of resigning because of a corruption scandal. Junichiro Koizumi, ex-Prime Minister, stated that the situation was getting dangerous for Mr Abe and that he may quit before parliament’s session ends on the 20th of June. Dissatisfaction over Mr Abe’s leadership is mounting after revelations about his and his wife’s names being scrubbed from documents relating to a sweetheart land deal were published by the finance ministry.
Mr Abe is seeking to become Japan’s longest serving Prime Minister, though the scandal which has followed him for the past year may end that ambition. He had offered to resign when allegations first came to light. The most recent report says that Mr Abe and his wife’s role in that previous deal may have been covered up by finance ministry officials who erased mention of the influential couple from pertinent documents. The scandal revolves around the sale of public land to a conservative education company at a steeply discounted rate. Mrs Abe was the honorary principal of a Moritomo Gauken school, the same company which bought the land. The education firm filed for bankruptcy in October 2017, following another scandal implicating the company in fraudulent claims of state subsidies. Another scandal revolving around Mr Abe using his influence to help one of his friends, the head of Kake Educational Institute, open a veterinary school is also dogging the Prime Minister.
Mr Abe won reelection in a landslide at the end of October of last year and is just over half a year away from beating Taro Katsura’s record of seven years and ten months in the office. Mr Abe was seen as a popular figure in Japan before the scandals emerged. His eponymous Abenomics have been credited with invigorating a stumbling Japanese economy, which has suffered from low growth for two decades. There were large protests over the weekend in the wake of the finance ministry’s findings, with 30,000 people protesting outside Japan’s parliament buildings demanding the resignation of Mr Abe.
Investors are not panicked at the news that Mr Abe may be forced out of office; any change in leadership is unlikely to cause a shift in policy. The governor of the Bank of Japan, Haruhiko Kuroda, who is seen as a key ally and supporter of Abe’s economic policies, was recently reappointed to head up the central bank and it would be surprising if he were removed following any change in the leadership of the governing Liberal Democratic Party. Polls in Japan put Mr Abe’s support at less than 27%.
Mr Abe is in the US visiting Donald Trump this week.
Photo By The White House from Washington, DC (Foreign Leader Visits) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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