Stepping out of Mr Abe’s shadow will be difficult for any successor, in part because the outgoing prime minister has spent years maneuvering his rivals into “positions where they seem really small, regardless of their physical dimensions,” he said. said Michael Cucek, assistant professor of Asia. studies at Temple University, Japan campus.
Jawaharlal Nehru, the founding prime minister of India, was once described as “a great banyan tree under which nothing grows,” added Mr. Cucek, an expert on Japanese politics. “And Mr. Abe has basically played the same role for the past eight years.”
Mr Abe’s successor will face a Japanese public unhappy with the Abe administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, even as the country has limited its number of cases to less than 68,000 infections and its deaths to less than 1,300.
It will also inherit an aging population and complex relationships with the world’s two largest economies, China and the United States, which are themselves embroiled in a bitter trade dispute.
Personalities are particularly important in global diplomacy during the Trump era because it is a time when “perception is not necessarily reality but perceptions matter,” said Shihoko Goto, senior partner for North Asia -Is at the Wilson Center, a research institute in Washington.