On becoming prime minister in 2006, Abe Shinzō was feted as the ‘prince’ of Japanese politics. A year later, Abe's Liberal Democratic Party had suffered a major electoral defeat and Abe's time as his country's leader was over. As a study of political leadership, this article seeks to explain the leadership outcomes of Abe's brief prime ministership, in particular the dramatic fall in public support Abe suffered during his tenure. It is argued that, despite the difficult circumstances Abe faced, the nature of his political demise cannot be fully accounted for by structural factors alone. It is also necessary to understand the role played by Abe himself and, in particular, his flawed leadership strategy. In the end, Abe's political demise followed a basic logic: high expectations followed by disillusionment characterised by sudden plunges in approval—a tragedy of hubris leading to nemesis.
... If one accepts the proposition that how the judges apply legal principles and develop doctrine matters, as Matsui's claim clearly does, refocusing the analysis on the illegitimacy of the decision-making process is more likely to advance the normative aspect of his argument and create greater pressure for effective change. ... The two meanings of conservative tend to be easily elided in the Japanese context, since the government has itself been characterized as being conservative for virtually all of the Court's existence, and thus determining whether the motive behind the Court's jurisprudence was primarily one of deference to the government or the ideologically motivated implementation of conservative policy would be rather difficult. ... The idea is to analyze the decisions within the framework of accepted theories of rights, constitutional interpretation, and judicial reviewto assess whether the reasons for the decision can be justified in terms of such theoriesand to determine whether the ultimate conclusion falls within a reasonable range of possible decisions in the circumstances of the case. ... Thus, in applying the proportionality principle as a model for assessing the legitimacy of judicial decisions, one would look at the extent to which the court has sufficiently weighed the substance and importance of the right in question and assessed the nature and extent of the harm caused by the violation of the right, both in the initial inquiry into whether the impugned law has violated the right, and later in assessing the proportionality of benefits to be achieved against the harm caused by the impugned law. ... In discussing the Tokyo High Court's consideration of less restrictive alternatives, Justice Fujita wrote that if such special personnel considerations were required of local governments in developing their policies (that is, making positions of public authority open to only a subset of all those promoted to senior management, as a less restrictive means of achieving the objectives), it would harm the flexibility of the personnel management systems. ... On the other hand, the costs of error in the event that the Court wrongly upheld the policy would be not only the deprivation of the claimant's rights and the effective ending of her career, but far more importantly, the mistake would perpetuate prejudice and discrimination against Koreans and other foreigners within Japan and further weaken the right to equality generally under the Constitution. ... Ignoring as it does any inquiry into the nature of the discrimination or the harm that it causes, and refusing to examine the importance or legitimacy of the legislative objective by reference to such external criteria as the values and norms inherent in a constitutional democracy, the test approaches a tautology.