Last week, Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe officially announced his resignation from office for health reasons. He said that he did not want his illness to interfere with making decisions and apologized to the Japanese people for not being able to complete his term of office.
Shinzo Abe is Japan's longest serving non-stop prime minister since being appointed in 2012.
Japan is a country that is often marked by resignation of officials. The culture of shame and guilt runs deep in their lives. If a public official is guilty, he or she will automatically resign from his or her position. Take for instance the case of Shinzo Abe. Because of being ill, he felt that he was not able to carry out his duties optimally. So, he decided to resign.
Some literatures explain that Bushido, which is said to be the basis of ethics for the Japanese population, is the root of the frequent resignation of public officials. One of the values in Bushido is Meiyo, namely maintaining a good name and self-respect by having respectful behavior. So, it is not surprising that many Japanese leaders prefer to resign honorably if they make mistakes.
In 2010, for example, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama resigned because he failed to fulfill his promise during an election campaign to move US military bases out of Okinawa.
After Yukio Hatoyama's resignation, the position of Prime Minister of Japan was then filled by Naoto Kan. But after one year in charge, Naoto Kan also decided to resign because he felt he had failed to restore Japan after being hit by a tsunami in March 2011 which caused a nuclear crisis. Shinzo Abe was promoted to become Prime Minister in 2012, but finally he also decided to resign for reasons of health that made him unable to carry out his duties properly.
Shinzo Abe's resignation sparked a vote within the LDP Party to replace him as chairman. This election will be followed by a vote in parliament to determine the figure to replace as prime minister until Abe's term ends in September 2021.
Whoever replaces Shinzo Abe later will be faced with a very difficult task. Japan, like other countries in the world, is on the verge of a recession. The Japanese economy was minus 2.2% in the first quarter of 2020, while in the second quarter, it was minus 7.8%. The economic growth in the second quarter was the worst decline since 1980. It is hoped that Shinzo Abe's successor will be able to pass through the needle hole of the world recession and bring Japan to a better condition.