A note: I have been (very gently) berated by a friend for posting too much about Japanese politics. I understand of course; these are remote events, physically and mentally, for anyone reading this in Sweden. All I can promise is that I'll post less once the next election is over. Please bear with me until then. Anyway, here goes:
Japanese Prime Minister Aso Tarō is nothing if not persistent. He has a trail of verbal gaffes and bungling of policies that would be impressive in a prime minister serving for years, not months. With deteriorating support ratings and his policies (to the extent he has any) going nowhere, a lesser man would throw in the towel and call it quits.
But with such energy and drive entirely unfettered by reflection and self-restraint it should come as no surprise that he'll boldly grab this opportunity and go for the gold. We saw the first signs of greatness when he got support below the 20% level. Two weeks ago we saw the Aso cabinet hit 14% support and people started to wonder: are we seeing history in the making? Could he do it? Could he actually manage to break the 10% barrier before being forced out and tie or surpass Yoshirō Mori for least popular prime minister of all time? And not only a national record, mind you; those numbers would be strong contenders for a world record among democratically elected national leaders.
Mind you, he has to call an election by September, and might well be forced out once the budget is passed this spring, so time is short. He's not helped by those pesky hard-line party members that will support him no matter what; every party of any consequence have their cheerleeding squad that will need more than a mere policy reversal or political disaster to change their support. Fortunately for Aso, it seem he's found the right combination of hapless waffling and intraparty bickering to uproot even this obstacle to historical greatness: Mr. Harris reports that the Aso cabinet have made it below 10%, and in plenty of time to improve further on those numbers too. He was never close to an Olympic medal but this time it looks like the brass ring just might finally be his to grasp!