Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Cleanup Time

Flash! Being young, conservative and frequently caught in flagrant PDA with your lawful wedded wife does not buy you popularity!

Or so they tell

Abe's Honeymoon Ends as Criticism in Japan Mounts

Dec. 12 -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's honeymoon with the public seems to be ending.

After 11 weeks in office, popular support for Abe's administration dropped in polls by three national newspapers and NHK Television, with one survey showing a 21 percentage point decline since he took office in September.

The plunge is largely due to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's decision to re-admit 11 lawmakers booted out by Abe's predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, in September 2005. Koizumi expelled legislators who opposed his efforts to privatize the postal system, and then won a landslide election weeks later.

or, as it is also described here:

Japan PM suffers sharp fall in popularity
Financial Times

Published: December 12 2006 10:28 --The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's popularity has plummeted in the past few weeks, according to polls published on Tuesday by leading Japanese media organisations.

The polls by the Yomiuri, Asahi and Mainichi newspapers, as well as the public broadcaster, NHK, taken over the weekend show a widespread loss of public faith in the government’s commitment to reform and mounting concerns over Mr Abe's lack of leadership and the direction of his government’s policies.

Now the precipitous plunge of Abe's popularity is not news in these parts; indeed, both Shisaku (here and here and here) and GlobalTalk21 (there and there) have been on the case since late November (to be fair, Nakamoto-san has been out of town for a long while).

So what is the meta-narrative, the grand scheme into which we shall shoehorn these facts? The Japanese public is fickle and easily bored? Abe is disdainful, inadroit and diffident? Japan is slumping again? The Economist is swamp of pretentious, smug and facile writing (wait a minute, how did this get in here?) straining toward the singular goal of bemusing the world to death?


Anonymous said...

Deliberately omitting the most obvious meta-narrative?
That there is nothing particularly astonishing about this loss of support (the most interesting aspect is that the press are choosing to emphasize it, to frame it surprising).
Research on Japan and cross-nationally finds that after the initial honeymoon period, governments generally lose support in subsequent elections and suffer from declining levels of popularity. The decline in the vote share is caused by a combination of the loss of the swing vote; the government alienating coalitions over policy choices; inflated expectations generated by election campaigns; the ability of the opposition to blunt achievements by promising to continue them; and corruption that tarnishes administrations. Or, as the Economist more facetiously puts it, “All long-lived governments have a natural lifespan before the bits start falling off”(May 6-12 2006).

MTC said...

1) Amen to all the above, except:

- the LDP has won three out of the four big election since Abe became PM

- Abe has not been associated with any of the governor-level dango allegations

- even after coming to internal agreement (finally) on the party's political program, the DPJ has not absconded with any of the government's popular programs

- we are not at even the three month point of this new administration; unless, of course, you are claiming that the Abe Cabinet is the continuation of the Koizumi Cabinet in all but name.

2) News organizations print news. If Abe's fall were dumbly natural and/or of minor importance, the business press would hardly cover the story ("Sun rises in East Today" is incredibly good news for everyone--but somehow never makes it into the headlines).