James Gannon is executive director of the Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE)/USA, and Ryo Sahashi is associate professor at Kanagawa University and research fellow at the JCIE.
Barely three years ago, Japan watchers were wondering what it would take to break the country’s streak of short-term prime ministers—six premiers had cycled through office in six years and a total of fourteen in two decades. Then Shinzo Abe upended expectations by returning to power and projecting an aura of strong leadership. He has already become one of Japan’s longest-serving prime ministers and, in the process, racked up an impressive list of foreign policy accomplishments. In light of his success, one could assume that the problem of short-lived, weak prime ministers is a thing of the past. But a recent Japan Center for International Exchange study, Looking for Leadership, warns that Abe may be the exception rather than the rule. Post-Abe, Japan is likely to slip back into the pattern of frequent leadership changes. Read more »