Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Day for Resignations: Abe

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also handed in his resignation today, conceding defeat after the electoral lossess suffered by the Liberal Democrats back in July. Current LDP Secretary-General Taro Aso will succeed him.

Abe's departure means that Japan's course toward "normalization"--being able to exercise the full range of military options available to other countries that are Japan's peers--is still uncertain. Abe's departure may create conditions for the Japanese Diet (Kokkai) to pass legislation extending the ability of Japan's navy to take part in resupply/refueling operations in the Indian Ocean in support of ongoing operations in Afghanistan--something that was being held up by the opposition.

But Abe's departure means that it is unlikely that his successors as prime minister will be as forceful as he was in articulating a 21st century path for Japan's "normalization" and will again raise concerns about the apparent lack of stability in terms of producing prime ministers that can serve for long terms.

Taro Aso will succeed him because:
a) the truncated process for the selection of the next LDP presidential=Japan PM selection by a limited electorate consisting of non-elective regional representatives plus parliamentarians guarantees that Koizumi-type outliers (e.g. Youichi Masuzoe) will not be elected; and
b) it's Mr. Aso or Sadakazu Tanigaki's turn since they were the ones who contested the election the last time around, and they're not going to give it to Mr. Tanigaki.

The new counter-terrorism act (I cannot bring myself to call it anti-terrorism law - anyone can be anti-terror, it's countering it that matters) will be passed by a supermajority after the November 1 "deadline";
the new Prime Minister will not call an election at least until the end of the next regular Diet session;
the JSDF fuel ships will come back; and
the world will go on, at least until the new Prime Minister calls an election sometime next year. I would take over/under bets on September.

I haven't recovered the presence of mind to think beyond that.
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