TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's conservative ruling camp was headed for a devastating election defeat on Sunday that could well force the 52-year-old leader to resign, media exit polls showed.Japan, a far more traditionalist and conservative society, put up with Abe's nonsense for less than ten months before deciding they'd like to go back to the more liberal administration of government.
The election for half the seats in parliament's 242-member upper house is the first nationwide electoral test since Abe took over as prime minister 10 months ago, pledging to boost Japan's global security profile, rewrite its pacifist constitution and nurture economic growth.
Public broadcaster NHK said Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its partner, the New Komeito, were seen winning between 39 and 55 of the 64 seats needed to keep their majority in the upper house, where half of the 242 seats are up for grabs. The New Komeito had aimed for 13 seats.
Likely because, as with so many conservative administrations, Abe's administration has been rife with corruption and ineptitude almost from the very start.
But doubts about his leadership abilities were fanned by a series of gaffes and scandals that led two cabinet members to resign and one to commit suicide, as well as revelations that the government had lost track of millions of pension premium payments.Like Bush, Abe succeeded a wildly popular Prime Minister (Junichiro Koizumi), with Elvis-Presley-like charisma.
There's a lesson here for Democrats, as well. The opposition party, the LDP, pledged to "shrink income gaps and ensure the weak are not neglected." This echoes the 2006 Congressional campaign, to an extent, but should become the focal point for the presidential campaign next year.