Shinzo Abe looks set to become Japan’s longest serving prime minister. On Sunday, his conservative Liberal Democratic Party will revise rules to allow party presidents three consecutive three-year terms.
But it’s not all smooth sailing for Mr Abe. He and his wife, Akie, became embroiled in a media storm last week. She had been the honorary principal of an ultra-nationalist kindergarten that purchased state-owned land – for a school that was to be named the “Shinzo Abe Memorial Elementary School” – at 14% of its appraisal price. Abe is trying to reassure supporters by offering to resign if he or his wife are found to have been involved.
Despite this, the prime minister remains popular and virtually unopposed. The kindergarten scandal hardly dented his approval ratings, which got a bump from Abe’s ‘golf-diplomacy’ with US President Trump due to the possibility of a bilateral trade deal. There is no other uniting figure within the LDP, and the opposition still suffers from divisions stemming from its lacklustre 2009-12 term.
If nothing comes of the investigation, Abe is likely to remain at the helm well beyond 2018.