Falling approval rate tolls bell for Abe’s rule

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/18 23:33:39

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's approval rating has sharply fallen into a "dangerous zone" that may jeopardize his ability to govern. One poll indicated that his support rate has dropped to 29.2 percent. The unsatisfactory performance of officials such as Defense Minister Inada Tomomi is believed to the main reason. Abe plans to reshuffle his cabinet next month to boost his approval rating.

The defeat of Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) candidate in the Tokyo governor election early this month tolled the bell for his rule.

Looking around Asia, former Philippine president Benigno Aquino III is facing charges and may end up in jail. Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong's authority has been seriously challenged by a family feud. Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye is the most miserable, living in a detention center and who reportedly appears to be mentally ill.

These former or current state leaders had all adopted a hawkish China policy. Though they were ditched or questioned because of improper handling of domestic affairs, they shared similar logic in their China policy. The question is whether this logic had affected their performance of domestic governance.

The answer is yes. These leaders have all deviated from a middle path that Chinese culture emphasizes. They swing completely to the US side to oppose China, and this political childishness will be inevitably reflected in their handling of domestic affairs.

These leaders rush to make an enemy of China. Although they may get temporary support by agitating nationalist sentiments, a stalled relationship with China has sown the seeds of their being abandoned in the future. In no Asian country is the public willing to be antagonistic against China, and such unwillingness will gradually take effect on politics.

Abe attempts to build Japan into a "standard-bearer" against China, which obviously cannot be supported by Japan's national strength nor reflect the will of Japanese society.

Confronting Beijing has become a prominent national strategy of Tokyo, a choice that Abe must have enough prestige to sustain. However, Abe attempts to use Beijing-Tokyo conflicts as a tool to support his domestic reforms. Obviously, his political logic was mistaken.

The same goes for Lee Hsien Loong. He failed to inherit his father Lee Kuan Yew's political legacy of balancing between China and the US, and rashly sided with Washington and Tokyo on the South China Sea issue. This has severely jeopardized the China-Singapore friendship that his father elaborately cultivated, and ruined the balanced Beijing-Washington pattern. As a result, he has become one of the most disliked foreign leaders among the Chinese public.

These leaders are not capable enough to handle sophisticated issues, judging by their clumsy China policies. Their setbacks in domestic affairs are hardly surprising.

China is a moderate country, but some people attempt to take advantage of this modesty. They instigate national sentiments and use external levers to coerce China to compromise. Their China policy has consumed much of their political resources, and has done no good to themselves.

It is impossible for Abe to lead Japan to a dominant position in Asia. The Japanese public is more rational and realistic than Abe, and the prime minister is left with fewer chances to save his political reputation.

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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