Japan goes on vacation, Abe’s unpopularity stays put

Prime Minister Abe has decided to forgo taking a vacation at his summer home in Yamanashi Prefecture during the O-Bon festival period, although it is not entirely clear what he plans to do in Tokyo — apparently he’ll be going to movies and plays. He told reporters, “Since I also have preparations to make for foreign travel, I think I’ll hold off.” The Abe camp added, “Since there was an election, he has a lot to do.” (A few loads of laundry? Changing light bulbs at the Kantei?)

You have to wonder if the prime minister would be better off taking a proper vacation. Maybe a few days away from Tokyo would allow him to take in the many signals emanating from the Japanese people and his own party suggesting that he should leave office post haste.

The criticism continues to mount. Most recently, party chapters that were home to losing candidates in last month’s election called for the prime minister’s head, perhaps finding that it is increasingly difficult for them to rebuild support in their prefectures so long as Mr. Abe is the weary face of a beleaguered party. Although former MAFF Minister Shimamura Yoshinobu has announced the formation of a Diet members’ league to support the prime minister (whose membership is as of yet unclear), that seems to be small recompense for criticism from within the LDP that has increased by the day since the election. I mean, when you consider the size of the LDP’s caucus in the House of Representatives — 296 seats — the fact that, according to a Mainichi article, Shimamura is aiming at 100 members is revealing. Shouldn’t the prime minister’s support league be his party’s caucus?

Still, much will depend on the reshuffle that is scheduled to come on 27 August, a reshuffle that looks ever more certain to see Foreign Minister Aso shuffled off to the LDP secretariat — a move that looks awfully similar to a demotion — and Internal Affairs Minister Suga elevated to chief cabinet secretary.

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