Trump not the only leader plagued by scandal

Thursday, April 19, 2018

President Donald Trump is embroiled in scandals questioning his firing of former FBI Director James Comey, his involvement with porn star Stormy Daniels and his possible connection to Russia during his 2016 presidential campaign.The accusations haven't seriously threatened his job, not yet anyway. Another world leader, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, may be on his way out of office over accusations of shady financial deals.

You might ask, "Why do I care if the Japanese prime minister could lose his job?" Outside of the obvious connections the United States has with Japan through economic measures such as trade, the most pressing reason for the average U.S. citizen to care whether or not Abe holds on to his job is his stance on defense.

Since the end of World War II, Japan has been barred from having a full-fledged military. If Abe has his way and receives a third term, he would like to revise the pacifist constitution Japan has had in place for seven decades, according to The Washington Post.

People on both sides of the issue have made solid, well thought-out arguments. The U.S. has stepped in since the war as Japan's primary defense. Some believe this is an undue burden on America. Peace activists do not want to see any other nations joining the nuclear weapons club. With North Korea's ongoing missile testing over Japan, there is some room for concern about how far Abe's Japan would go to defend itself.

According to a 2017 article published on The Guardian's website, the U.S. military has more personnel serving in Japan than any other country with 39,345 troops stationed across 112 bases at the time. If Japan were to expand its army beyond the Self-Defense Force who, as the name suggest, are in place to defend Japan, not to engage in an offensive war, it would change the military balance of power across the world. It is worth noting, SDF forces have been used outside of Japan in recent years as part of international peace keeping forces.

As the highest profile proponent of military re-engagement in Japan, Abe's future is directly relevant to citizens around the world. Abe has been in office since 2012. Before that, he served as prime minister from 2006-07. He left office then due to health concerns.

After Abe resigned the first time, five prime ministers served for less than 16 months each which is not good for governing relations with any country. Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, the conservative party in Japan, has dominated politics since its founding in 1955. Except for a couple of brief periods between 1993-94 and from 2009-12, the party has held power in the country. Could Abe's removal be a potential destabilizing force in the country?

Abe currently has his lowest poll numbers since taking office, hovering around 26 percent. The news gets worse for Abe with as many as 50,000 protesters taking to the streets outside the Diet, the Japanese legislative body, this past weekend calling him a liar while asking for his resignation. Popular, former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi recently called for Abe to resign at the end of current Diet term, according to the Washington Post.

Abe's government has been accused of giving substantial land sales discounts to two education institutions linked to associates of he and his wife. He is also accused of covering his links to the deal up afterward, according to the Washington Post.

While U.S. citizens have enough scandals to consider, it might be worth taking a couple minutes out of your day to keep abreast on what is happening in the Asia-Pacific. No matter your opinion, it could have repercussions felt across the world.