National / Politics

Abe becomes prime minister with fourth-longest total tenure

JIJI

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday replaced Shigeru Yoshida as the government leader with the fourth-longest total tenure.

Abe’s total tenure, including his 12-month first term to September 2007, has reached 2,617 days, surpassing Yoshida’s total of 2,616 days between 1946 and 1954.

Abe’s tenure now trails Taro Katsura’s 2,886 days across three stints between 1901 and 1913, Eisaku Sato’s 2,798 days between 1964 and 1972, and Hirobumi Ito’s 2,720 days spread across four stints between 1885 and 1901.

All of the top four are from Yamaguchi Prefecture or its predecessor, the Choshu domain.

“I’ll continue to do my best each day,” Abe told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office on Friday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters at a news conference that the achievement was a result of making efforts on every issue.

“We’ll keep listening to Japanese people’s voices and responding to each issue sincerely,” the top government spokesman said.

Abe’s first administration lasted only 366 days.

However, he established a long-term administration after returning to the post in December 2012.

If Abe stays on, his total term in office will surpass that of Ito on June 7 this year, that of Sato, his granduncle, on Aug. 24, and that of Katsura on Nov. 20, which would make him the country’s longest-serving prime minister.

Other than Abe, Yoshida is the only postwar leader who returned after leaving the post.

Yoshida signed the San Francisco peace treaty and the original Japan-U.S. security treaty in 1951.

He also worked to establish the 1947 Constitution, creating the foundations of modern Japan.

Abe is calling for legitimizing the Self-Defense Forces, launched in 1954 under the Yoshida-led administration, by amending the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.