The Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, announced his resignation this morning. He will remain at his post until a successor is chosen.
Abe has been documented as suffering from ulcerative colitis throughout his life, and in recent weeks has had a sharp uptick in consultations with doctors. Nevertheless, his resignation came as a surprise to supporters and detractors alike.
Abe is one of Japan’s most successful Prime Ministers, and had seen his poll numbers bounce back from direct implication in a real estate scandal. He’s recently had a dip in popularity as a third wave of coronavirus cases has taken hold and grown in strength, as opposed to the first two waves which were handled effectively. A massive nationwide push on the 2020 Olympics was to be a chance to rebrand the Japanese economy on the world stage following the doldrums of the last twenty-five years, and the loss of that prize may have weighed upon his decision.
In nearby South Korea, a recent rise in coronavirus cases, currently at 441 active cases through the nation, have spurred calls for a second lockdown. The government has been hesitant to take that step because of the economic damaged wreaked by the first lockdown; instead, they have been increasing warnings to the citizenry. Officials have been hoping that South Koreans would take the issue seriously, and to a large part they have, but some factions have balked due to the duration of the precautionary measures, conspiratorial concerns and other rationales.
In response to the growth of cases in South Korea, North Korean border guards have reportedly been instructed to use live rounds by default if approached.
In Canada, ten days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suspended Parliament, complaints are growing that the suspension may have been meant to stop investigations into corruption. Trudeau announced his decision on August 18, one day after the resignation of his Finance Minister, Liberal MP Bill Morneau.
The corruption allegations are related to the awarding of a $918 million contract to administer pandemic-related student aid. The contract was given to the WE charity, which has direct financial ties to the Trudeau family. Trudeau has declared that he first learned of the decision to give the grant money to WE only six hours before the grant was provided, and that he was against the idea because of the obvious appearance of impropriety.
That testimony came in June. Investigations have continued, and the suspension of Parliament immediately following the resignation of the person who authorized the grant is fueling suspicions of a cover-up.