On Twitter, users pilloried the prosecutor’s decision to drop charges against Mr Abe. The tweets demanding that the authorities file a complaint Thursday morning, accompanied by the hashtag “#abenomics”, a play on the name of the campaign for the economic revitalization of the former prime minister. Koichi Nakano, a political science professor at Sophia University and outspoken critic of the former leader, said his Christmas wish was for Santa to imprison Mr Abe at the North Pole.
Outrage reflected widespread frustration with Mr Abe, who had weathered several influence peddling scandals during his tenure as the country’s longest-serving prime minister – a record he set thanks to strong economic growth, in part due to his reform efforts and skillful management of President Trump.
Most famously, he has been accused of the abusive sale of public land at heavily discounted prices to a political ally. A government official caught up in the scandal committed suicide.
The scandals were never conclusively linked to the former chief, who denied any wrongdoing, but they fueled growing public anger that nearly cost Mr Abe his job.
His reputation had also been tarnished by his allies’ run-ins with the law. Earlier this year, Anri Kawai, one of his political proteges and the wife of a former justice minister in his cabinet, was accused of buying votes to win elections to the upper house of parliament . She is currently on trial in Tokyo, where she has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Makiko Inoue and Hikari Hida contribution to the reports.