Japanese prime ministers come and go. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s current prime minister, is the 11th in 15 years. A succession of short lived governments and constant gridlock in parliament has placed Japanese politics in a state of paralysis and instability. This is not unfamiliar to Mr. Abe. He experienced the country’s political instability first-hand during his first term as prime minister in 2006-2007, when he crashed out of office following a series of scandals. However, Mr. Abe may have learned from his mistakes. Three months into office, the PM is enjoying unusually high approval ratings: around 70 percent support him. Much of his newly won approval has sprung from his determination to get Japan out of its infamous “lost decade”. Will this premier be able to overcome Japan’s political instability – or end up leaving through its revolving door once again?
Unfortunately for Mr. Abe, Japan’s political instability runs deep. Only one parliament has survived an entire term since the Second World War, and governments rarely last longer than two years. Early resignations of prime ministers have been occurring for some time, and stepping down seems to have become expected of politicians following low approval ratings. Although there is no consensus on what the root cause is, many different factors seem to play a part in the instability.
by Jesper Åkesson