09/12/2007, 00.00
JAPAN
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Scandals and plummeting popularity, Abe resigns

The announcement was made this morning live on TV. The premier’s popularity had fallen to below 30% in the aftermath of scandals linked to corruption which hit his government and the landslide defeat in July elections. Taro Ase is the probable new prime minister.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his resignation this morning (local time). The decision was taken following his party’s failure in July’s parliamentary elections, his unstoppable fall in popularity and the series of scandals which have marked his cabinet.

 

The premier announced his resignation during a live press conference broadcast on national TV.  A moved Abe said: “needed a new leader to fight against terrorism. The people need a leader whom they can support and trust”.

 

Abe leader of the Liberal Democrats and who is seen as a nationalist took over as prime minister a year ago when he was voted in by fellow MPs.  In July – during his first face off with the voting electorate – he was overwhelmingly defeated, costing his party the Senate majority.

 

The premier described the defeat as “grave, but I had intended to continue in government with the aim of pushing ahead with reforms and avoiding instability. The cabinet reshuffle however has proved insufficient, therefore I have decided to end my mandate and entrust the next leader with the job of bringing the reforms through with renewed energy”.

 

Recently Abe had repeatedly threatened his resignation given the impossibility of dialoguing with the opposition on the subject of Japanese support of American troops in the Arabian Sea.  Moreover, the results of recent polls carried out by the right wing paper Yomiuri, his ratings had fallen below 29 %, a point below the so called “alarm bell” of 30%.

 

 But in the end, Abe was neither capable of managing the scandals which devastated his cabinet.  This had pushed the Minister for Agriculture Takehido Endo to design last week (the third ministry head to leave since the beginning of the ex premiers mandate).

 

According to government sources the most likely candidate to take Abe’s place is Taro Ase, one of his closet collaborators.  A sign, in the analyst’s opinion, of the electorates desire for change.

 

 

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