Tokyo: Shinzo Abe entered the history books as Japan’s longest-serving premier, but many of his ambitious goals, including a constitutional revision to strengthen the military, appear far from reach.
Yesterday marked Abe’s 2,887th day in office, topping the record previously set by Taro Katsura, a revered politician who served three times between 1901 and 1913.
The 65-year-old is also the second-longest-serving leader of the Group of Seven major economies behind only German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been in office since 2005.
Abe’s grip on power remains firm as he passes the landmark, with his tenure likely to last until at least September 2021 and no clear successor yet on the horizon.
But the premier has plenty of unfinished business, saying earlier this year after a Cabinet reshuffle that he hoped to “take on the challenge to create a new country”.
He has reiterated his long-cherished ambition of revising Japan’s post-war constitution to change the status of the country’s Self Defence Forces.
But opposition parties have refused to move forward with procedures for the revision, and Abe has seen his reputation tarnished by the resignation of two Cabinet ministers and a cronyism scandal.
He is currently mired in a row over inviting too many of his supporters to a costly cherry blossom viewing party, forcing the government to scrap the annual event next year.
“I’ve made efforts every single day to carry out the policies I promised and these daily efforts have led me to this day, ” Abe said.
He vowed to do his “utmost” in the two years he has remaining as president of his Liberal Democratic Party.
Despite recent missteps, however, experts say Abe’s ruling coalition faces no major threats in parliament, and there are no obvious pretenders to his office. — AFP