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Earlier this month, Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori announced that the date for electing the next president of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party would be moved up. This was tantamount to him expressing his intention to resign.

Since then, the party has been thrown into chaos over when and how it will elect its next president and, above all, who will succeed Mori.

The prime minister still says that he will do his best during the remainder of his tenure, but the people no longer pay attention to what he says or does. Indeed, they do not expect anything from the prime minister, even though he says politicians must always work for the good of the nation and must not waste a single day.

Currently, Japan faces numerous problems requiring urgent solution. We cannot afford to have a “blank” period in politics, which would be caused by a change of government.

Mori should be aware of this, but he has apparently succumbed to criticism from the media, as well as from opposition parties, and said that he would resign.

He has done so even though there appears to be nobody within the LDP who is qualified to succeed him. He should be blamed for that, because he had promised to resuscitate the nation and its economy.

He repeatedly said it was incumbent on him to bring about an economic recovery and to reconstruct Japan’s fiscal system. How much more irresponsible could he have been than to abandon those promises and decide to step down?

I would have liked to see Mori seek the support and cooperation of the secretary general and other LDP leaders by telling them that, regardless of criticism from the press and the opposition parties, he would pursue his policies to his last breath.

This, I believe, was what the head of government should have done. Every prime minister is subject to bitter criticisms, and it is his political responsibility to overcome them.

Among his predecessors, Shigeru Yoshida concluded a peace treaty with the United States and its allies; Nobusuke Kishi revised the security treaty with the U.S.; and Hayato Ikeda launched a program to double national income in 10 years. All of them faced strong criticism from the people as well as from the media. Yet, they overcame that opposition, followed their beliefs and fulfilled their political responsibilities.

The next question is who will succeed Mori. Among those mentioned as candidates are former Post and Telecommunications Minister Junichiro Koizumi, former LDP Secretary General Hiromu Nonaka, ex-Trade Minister Mitsuo Horiuchi and Yasuhisa Shiozaki. I do not believe any one of them is fit to head the government.

Koizumi has been criticized for being one of the chief supporters pf the Mori regime. Nonaka is opposed by many within the Keiseikai, the largest faction in the LDP. Although Horiuchi is highly regarded by some political professionals, he is neither well-known nor popular. Shiozaki, at 50, is thought to be inexperienced.

This leads me to believe that the LDP no longer has anyone qualified to become the next prime minister. The life span of a political party is said to be 10 to 20 years, 30 years at the longest, and the LDP is coming to the end of its life.

Following its defeat in war in 1945, Japan was liberated and political parties mushroomed. A virtual two-party system created in 1955 by the LDP and the Japan Socialist Party lasted for 38 years until 1993, when Morihiro Hosokawa formed a coalition Cabinet encompassing eight political groups.

That was a result of a split of the Liberal Democrats, and marked the beginning of a series of coalition governments that has lasted until today.

Today — eight years later — the LDP seems dead, incapable of finding the next prime minister among its leaders.

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