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Japan Politics Sept 12

JAPAN
Politics
September 12, 2007
Abe resigns after opposition resurgence
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe resigned on Wednesday after less than a year in power, falling victim to a string of scandals that hampered his reform agenda and sent his popularity plummeting.

The conservative 52-year-old, the youngest Japanese leader in modern times and the first to be born after World War II, came to office pledging to restore the nation's pride and rewrite the pacifist constitution.

But a series of gaffes and scandals cost his ruling party control of the upper house of parliament in July, and Abe conceded that the resurgent opposition had made it impossible for him to do his job.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Kaoru Yosano, the government's top spokesman, also alluded to health issues that may have been partly behind Abe's decision to step down.

Abe's position had looked increasingly precarious as he struggled to persuade the opposition to back his reform agenda and an extension of a controversial mission in support of US-led forces in Afghanistan.

"I have made my utmost efforts with my belief that we should not stop reforms. But unfortunately, the party cannot hold talks with the opposition party because I am the prime minister," a visibly emotional Abe said. AFP reports

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