Country Reports

With Abe Shinzo’s decision to resign for health reasons at the end of August, discussion turned quickly to his legacy, including in international relations. One position was that he transformed Japanese politics, hollowing them out for foreign and domestic decision-making. He not only had been obsessed with amending the Constitution, he violated it with impunity, one read in Gendai Business on August 29, ignoring article 53 on when to call a special session of the Diet. Three key, elderly officials had unprecedented tenures: 71-year old Suga, 79-year old Aso, and 81-year old Nikai. Despite slogans of reform, these were not forces for transforming Japanese society, reducing the gender gap, achieving digital transformation, or addressing climate change. The world over these 7 ½ years has changed dramatically, not Japan. Abe put people at ease while debate on needed reforms hardly progressed. Slogans were presented, but there was no vision for economic revival, and finally stability and slogans proved to be no match for the pandemic. Having opted for the status quo in Abe’s tenure, Japan must now face reality.

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