The Main Stumbling Block Of The Abe Administration: Diarrhea?

As we pointed out earlier today, Japan’s new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is really Japan’s old Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who in September 2007 quit after precisly one year in the PM post, despite having been groomed his entire life just for the position. His tenure was, in short, a sheer disaster. The Economist summarizes it as follows: “Mr Abe’s government was initially very popular. Yet the tide in Mr Abe’s affairs only ebbed. True, early on he made a notable opening towards China, with whom relations had been strained under Mr Koizumi. Other than that, Mr Abe proved unable to impose discipline upon a cabinet of the corrupt and incompetent. Worse, he had a tin ear for the political mood. Voters, it had turned out, had been beguiled more by Mr Koizumi the messenger than by his message of structural reform, which entailed pain and uncertainty, notably in Japan’s rural regions and among the old. Mr Abe failed to address these concerns.”

“Domestic policy interests him not a jot… Mr Abe’s inert response to a bureaucratic scandal involving 50m missing pensions records underscored how out-of-touch he was. In late July voters punished his government in elections for the Diet’s upper house: for the first time in its half-century life, the LDP and allies lost the upper-house majority, to the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). Not just the opposition but LDP heavyweights too began calling for Mr Abe’s resignation.”

And thus began the slide of the LDP, which soon thereafter saw its uninterrupted run of 50 years at the helm of Japan end, with power handed over to the DPJ. Yet what was the gracious “exit” pretext that Abe used to evacuate his leadership spot without admitting defeat? Diarrhea. Yup: diarrhea.

The aptly named Japan Probe explains:

Shinzo Abe resigned as Prime Minister, claiming that diarrhea was preventing him from carrying out his duties. The diarrhea was due to ulcerative colitis, a bowel illness caused by ulcers. Abe had suffered from this illness for decades, but after becoming Prime Minister, the stress of his job apparently made the symptoms worse.

Surely, the complete collapse of public support for his government had nothing to do with the spike in his bathroom runs:

A couple days ago, Abe was elected leader of the Liberal Democratic Party. Two important events seemd to have made his victory possible. One is the recent outburst of Chinese aggression, which made a conservative “hawk” like Abe attractive to party members. The other, and perhaps the most important, was Abe’s use of a new medicine that allowed him to better control his bowel movements.

Meet Asacol: the miracle drug that has once again replaced the fecal debilitation with fiscal:

One politically correct take:

In September 2009, Zeria Pharmaceutical, a Japanese firm known for medication that treats digestive problems, acquired the Swiss company Tillotts. Soon after that acquisition, Tillotts’s medication, Asacol, used to treat ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, became available in the Japanese healthcare market.


One person who has benefited from this drug is Abe Shinz?, the current leader of the Liberal Democratic Party. Thanks to Asacol he has seen a dramatic improvement in the chronic ailment he has suffered since his youth, which forced him to resign as prime minister in 2007. He now has his sights on becoming prime minister again. Therefore, to a certain extent, Japan’s surge in overseas M&A is behind this revived political career. It goes to show that we have seen considerable dynamism from Japanese corporations.

A less politically correct take, of course, is that in a world in which there is a scapegoat for each and everything that can go wrong (hot weather, cold weather, a tropical storm, a tornado, an earthquake, people buying too much, people not buying enough, etc., etc., and in short all those other things that happens while central planners use their priced_to_perfection.xls models), the explosive diarrhea was merely the excuse to afford Abe a graceful exit stage left.

We wonder what physical ailment will be scapegoated by the brand (or not so brand) new PM three to six months from now, when this time is shown to not be different, when Japan once again lapses into deflation’s loving caress, and when in response to the imminent QE 10, 12, 13 and so forth from the BOJ, the other, far more aggressive “developed world” central banks react in kind, and in turn send the JPY soaring (and the near record high JPY shorts scrambling for the exits).

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