7/September/2020 in Warsaw
Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, announced his resignation on 28th, August. This was very shocking news for me. Some sort of rumors were circulating some weeks ahead, but once it became a reality, it hit me hard.
I'd been having some personal liking to him. He became Prime Minister in December in 2012. It was just after I left Japan for the UK, that was my first time to get out of Japan. And I have often been abroad ever since.
Before him, the opposition party was in power for 3 years, but it was very clear to the Japanese that the party did not have any ability to hold power. But, since Abe was re-elected for PM in 2012, many things, specifically economical and political situations in Japan, improved.
After 2012, I was often away from Japan, so I didn't really enjoy these "benefits" from Abe's government on a personal level. But I always followed news about Japan and was relieved with positives news about my country due to him.
When I heard of a breaking news about his sudden step down and watched his press conference afterward, I felt like a certain period came to an end inside of me.
"My foreign journey" started in 2012 and so far I've lived in 3 countries. Many things happened in my life. And, in my home country, the same prime minister had been in the position since 2012, but now he decided to step down.
I see some sort of dramas in Abe.
In 2006, he became Prime Minister. It was his first term. But during his 1st term, he was involved in many problems and just a year later he suddenly resigned due to his health condition. Since his resignation was so abrupt that he got a lot of criticism.
After his sudden regulation in 2007, Prime Minister in Japan changed almost every year and it lasted till 2012. It was politically very unstable period. Also, his party, the Liberal Democratic Party, lost many seats in parliament. So, in a sense, his cabinet and the following abrupt resignation trigged numerous number of problems afterward.
Then, he became PM again in 2012 and tried to solve problems his first term and registration brought. And, in the end, he became the longest serving Prime Minister in Japan. I can say he took his own responsibility.
But it was exactly the day he reach the milestone (24/August), he visited hospital and he made up his mind to step down.
There is a couple of political ambitions he wanted to achieve for long. So-called his "earnest wishes". One is amending the Japanese Constitution. The other is concluding the peace treaty with Russia.
The first one is probably bigger ambition than the second one. And this is the prime reason why I have an attachment with him. I believe the Japanese Constitution should be amended, because the current one was made by non-Japanese people/foreigners. The constitution is a fundamental law of everything in an independent country. I think it's shameful that such a fundamental was not made by the Japanese. At the same time, I think this is the meaning of defeat of the war. This is the fate a defeated country has to accept.
It is very hard to change the Japanese Constitution. You need to hold more than 2/3 seat in parliament just to start a discussion. It is even before referendum. Actually Abe's cabin/party and coalition party gained more than 2/3 agreement. But, due to some political reasons, he could not make it happen. He still hoped afterward, but in the end he could not.
About the treaty with Russia, Japan didn't make a peace treaty with Russia after WW II. And that's why Japan still has unsolved territorial problems, 4 islands close toHokkaido, with Russia. In order to end this dispute, the treaty is needed and Abe often had a meeting with Russian President, Putin. I presume Abe met Putin more than anyone else among G7 leaders. But things did not go further.
The point is that these 2 of his political ambitions actually derive from his father and his grandfather. His grandfather was Prime Minister in 1950's, who wanted to amend the Japanese Constitution. And his father, a Minister of Foreign Affairs, who was considered for the next potential Prime Minister, wanted to conclude the peace treaty with Russia, but due to cancer, he died before realising his wish.
This year, Olympic was supposed to be held in Tokyo. Abe was the one of key persons who made an effort for inviting the Olympic game to Tokyo in 2013. But due to Corona virus, it was cancelled. And it's very unclear if the Olympic happen even next year (Abe's remaining term is till Sep/2021. So, technically speaking, he could host Tokyo Olympic as a Prime Minister next year, if the Olympic really happens then,. But again it's unclear, or even unlikely).
Also due to Corona virus, many of his economical results he achieved during his term were smashed and again he got criticised.
So it's highly likely that he lost motivations to serve as Prime Minister and it must have affected his health as well.
When I think about Abe, I am sure he is the one who feels bad about himself the most. He wanted to continue, but could not due to his health, which nobody can really control.
On the other hand, one can say that he finally could quit his position. It's often difficult to step down if it lasts for a long time, especially if it's a top position of a country.
Once his regulation was announced, a lot of compliments and positive comments have been heard from leaders in other countries.
Obviously he had been blamed by many Japanese for various reasons during his almost 8 years term. And some must be very happy with his step down. But I suppose majority of the Japanese feels some sort of sympathy with him and his resignation, and they appreciate to him who brought stability and security in Japan.
Then, I started to think about Belarus where the same president has been in power for 26 years, who has been hated by his people yet who still tries to remain in the position by threatening and humiliating his people with violence.
I can't stop feeling that they are a very opposite example. Abe decided to resign by himself and he is now even more appreciated by his people, many are are already missing him.
And they are both the same age, born in 1954.
What Abe did is, in a sense, very normal thing in a democratic country. A leader can be chosen by fair election. And if the leader can't continue or can't contribute to his country, he can (or should) quit and the people should choose the next leader. But there are many countries where such "normal things" are not allowed.
Things happened in Belarus and Japan in recent days reminded me of such fundamental things that many of us take for granted.