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Abe emerging as a rare strong leader in Japan

17 Comments

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"Strong" is not synonymous with "good". History is full of strong leaders who led their countries into disaster. Perhaps it would be better to describe Abe as "less weak" than his peers. A strong leader would not have had to call a surprise election to consolidate power.

I had high hopes for Abe two years ago, he seemed to be the type of person who could get things done. But now I can't help but be disappointed. Having a background in economics, I find almost everything Abe has done to be backwards and self-defeating. And the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. What have we to show after two years of Abenomics? Vastly increased debt, JGB's which can no longer be sold on the open market, a stock market bubble inflated by cheap credit and easy money, and now recession?

I'll take a good leader over a strong leader any day.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

I wonder who wrote this AP article? It seems to espouse only a positive view. Even Abe's supporters don't seem to support everything he does, so this is rather odd, and I mean, really, "Voters are fairly evenly divided on Abe’s policies..." I wonder what poll that was? How did the author determine this?

Voters in a recent poll by the Japan Times found about 55% were opposed to his security policies, and about 33% supported them.

For economic policies, "62.8 percent of the respondents said they do not think his measures will make the economy better, while only 27.3 percent said they do."

The Japan Times link is below. Where is the author's link? Usually, articles are based on something, even slanted articles. I'd be curious to see what was used in this case.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/12/16/national/politics-diplomacy/55-do-not-support-abes-security-policies-poll-shows/#.VJDu6ckpjIo

5 ( +7 / -2 )

This line says it all: "not worried about public opinion"

The last thing on the minds of Abe and his ultra right wing buddies is actually listening to or representing public opinion. Having bought the Japanese media, with a secrecy act in place in case anyone goes against him, and a populace that redefines gullible, it's easy for him to create "public opinion."

It's very easy to close your eyes and ears and barrel forward.

That is not strength.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

"Strong" is not synonymous with "good". History is full of strong leaders who led their countries into disaster.

I agree. Some of the worst bosses I ever had were really strong - but unfortunately not with the intuition and sense that enabled them to make good decisions. They were just really strong at pushing through bad decisions.

Strength is important in a leader, but if that strength isn't backed up with quality, then it's actually worse than a weak leader.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Abe is trying to follow in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, who lifted countries out of slumps

Wait, what???? lifted out of slumps? the policies of both are STILL echoing hard times to this day in both respective countries.

3 ( +5 / -3 )

A true great leader in Japan is the equivalent of a mildly entertaining Muppet...the standards are not so high here...

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Yeah, let's see that strength by not driving the economy off a cliff for starters. Everything else is irrelevant noise.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Love him or hate him, Abe is setting himself apart from Japan’s tradition of revolving door prime ministers who last a year or so in office.

Respectfully, that does not make him a "strong leader" nor "effective". It simply means that his timing was such that the DPJ is so weak after their disastrous turn at leading the country -- brought on by Abe's first miserable term by the way -- that the LDP can move ahead with any agenda it wants. In many countries, he would have been judged such a weak leader after his well-publisized "tummy problems" that he would never have gotten a second chance. But since there are only so many prospects in the LDP bull-pen, he's back in charge.

2 ( +7 / -6 )

“It’s possible he will be considered a great prime minister like Koizumi,” said Yu Uchiyama, a Tokyo University professor and author of a book on the Koizumi administration and how it influenced Japanese politics. “The problem will be defense policy or foreign relations, especially with East Asian countries. If he can manage these issues, he can be a great prime minister.”

I disagree, I'd say any foreign policy achievement would pale in comparison to domestic reform and economic achievements.. Focusing on foreign relations and defense policy is diverting attention away from what's really important, the economy.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

'Strong' political leadership thrives when cultivated in an environment of weak, disorganised, and ineffective opposition. Abe san took full advantage of the DPJ crass stupidity and failure to see the wisdom in opposition to regroup, reinvent, atone for there inherently policy failures in office. Why the DPJ did not harangue the LDP to restructure the lopsided electoral system is testimony enough of a lack of viable political opposition in Japan.

That said Abe san comes from a tradition which has for long sustained Japan political chattering classes of 'political recycling', the son of the former Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe, one significant quote, "I have experienced failure as a politician and for that very reason, I am ready to give everything for Japan", is Abe at his most politically astute, and a reason never to underestimate Abe the consummate career politician. "Japan's beautiful seas and its territory are under threat, and young people are having trouble finding hope in the future amid economic slump,I promise to protect Japan's land and sea, and the lives of the Japanese people no matter what".....Abe san like Tony Blair is a master of political oratory, and a supreme judge for timing the national mood. Abe sans achilles heel is the legion of vested interests and lobby groups, he is having to curry favour and will eventually need to divest himself of if his 3rd arrow of reforms has any hope of success.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Just surviving two year, while perhaps an accomplishment in Japanese politics, does not make you a 'strong leader.'

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Strong and wrong.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

There is a big misunderstanding here.

Abe is PM. He is not supposed to be a leader. He is supposed to represent his people.

I wonder who Abe does represent?

His American handler?

His mother?

The ghost of his grandfather?

The voices in his head?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Only because the LDP and its Soka Gakkai partner bullied media paints Abe as such.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

There is only so much any leader in Japan can do with a backdrop of an aging and shrinking population. So unless the population decline can be stabilized or greatly slowed down, Japan's economic future will also be in decline unfortunately.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Wait, what???? lifted out of slumps? the policies of both are STILL echoing hard times to this day in both respective countries.

You obviously weren't around during the Reagan/Thatcher years. I guess you don't recall the double-digit unemployment and double-digit inflation of the 70's, or the sense of malaise people felt at the time. The long unemployment lines, and when welfare spending in America was greater than national defense spending. You probably don't remembrer businesses putting "We are not hiring!" signs on their gates. And if you didn't experience the 70's, then you couldn't notice how much better the 80's were, and the optimism which grew at that time.

And you probably aren't aware of how serious the cold war was, and the very real threat of nuclear war that existed for decades up until the 80's, or that it was Thatcher and Reagan who defeated the Soviet Union without firing a shot. Have you even the slightest clue how momentous that victory was? Did you ever have to perform a war drill? Did you have to learn the location of the nearest fallout shelter? Did you know that your parents would have only 18 minutes to evacuate before warheads began detonating over their cities?

Reagan or Thatcher were worth 100 Abe's each. Both got their way regardless of the obstacles. Reagan's party never held a majority in either house of congress during his 8 years in office, but he managed to get his policies implemented.

If you think the world today is worse off after Reagan or Thatcher, ask the Russians what they think.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Abe's nationalist leanings have strained ties with China and South Korea

AP, It is not Abe's nationalist leanings that have strained ties with China and SK. The ties had been strained long before Abe came along. It is their anti-Japan propagandas that have strained the ties. Japan ties with other countries are not strained. And it is China and SK that are nationalist leanings.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

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