It came out of the blue, but people walking the streets of Tokyo were not especially disappointed to hear Wednesday that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was resigning.
“It was a bit too late for him to resign,” said a 26-year-old company employee outside JR Shinagawa Station. “Ministers were resigning one after the other, and his Cabinet was riddled with problems.”
The man, from Kanagawa Prefecture, said he voted for the Democratic Party of Japan in the Upper House election July 29. Until then, he said, he had always voted for the Liberal Democratic Party.
“Abe was doing things in a very selfish manner, which is why I voted for the LDP’s opposition. He really should have resigned right after the election,” he said.
Nearby, Tokyo resident Yoshie Takahara expressed some sympathy for Abe’s plight.
“I’m sure he tried hard, but there must have been a lot of pressure on him to resign,” she said. “It’s too bad he’s leaving, but maybe it is for the best.”
Takahara, in her 50s, said Abe and his Cabinet members were not as appealing as his charismatic predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi. Although the new health and welfare minister, Yoichi Masuzoe, is a celebrity politician, he was a strong critic of Abe’s and so was not really an ally, she said.
“Abe was too young to become prime minister,” she said.
A 47-year-old woman from Nagoya said she felt that Abe could have made an effort to continue.
“After the defeat in the Upper House election, he should have predicted that this Diet session was going to be tough, so there must have been a way for him to deal with that situation,” she said.
“The Cabinet reshuffle now seems like a waste of energy,” she added.
Near JR Tamachi Station, a 61-year-old salesman for a Yokohama construction firm said he thought Abe was going to try to pass the antiterrorism law and remain in office until the end of the year.
“He probably lost confidence when he found himself in a gridlock,” he said.
The man said he voted for the DPJ in the Upper House election because he thought the ruling bloc was railroading too many laws.
“Actually, I didn’t really get his ‘postwar regime’ and ‘beautiful country’ rhetoric. I don’t think he has achieved anything special,” he said.
“If Abe had resigned after the election, maybe there would have been an opportunity for him to make a comeback. But now, that chance seems to have gone,” the man added.