Abe government shaken by scandal

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is coming off of a very bad week and this week could potentially be even worse. While it still seems highly likely that the IR Implementation Bill will be passed in the current Diet session, the possibility that scandal could suddenly bring down the Abe government can no longer be entirely discounted.

In a complex corruption scandal regarding special favors given to the operator of a right wing elementary school, which has been dogging the prime minister for nearly a year, the end of last week witnessed two major events: the suicide of a key Finance Ministry official and the resignation of the head of the National Tax Office. Finance Minister Taro Aso, who doubles as deputy prime minister, is in danger of being pushed out in the near future.

Opposition parties boycotted Diet hearings for several days last week.

None of this touches directly on the issues surrounding the IR Implementation Bill, but the fall of the Abe government—while still a long-shot—would obviously negatively impact the overall legislative agenda. It is a factor that bears watching in the days and weeks ahead.