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Taylor & Francis
H. D. P. Envall, ‘Abes’ Fall: Leadership and Expectations in Japanese Politics’, Australian Journal of Political Science, 19(2) 2011: 149-69.
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.