Abe Shinzō Becomes Japan’s Longest-Serving Prime MinisterPolitics
On November 20, 2019, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō became the longest-serving prime minister in the history of Japan’s constitutional government, at 2,887 days, surpassing the previous record held by Katsura Tarō.
The top four longest-serving prime ministers—Abe Shinzō, Katsura Tarō, Satō Eisaku, and Itō Hirobumi—are all natives of Yamaguchi Prefecture. Until the end of the Edo period (1603–1868), Yamaguchi was known as Chōshū, the feudal domain that was a driving force in the movement to topple the Tokugawa shogunate that culminated in the 1868 Meiji Restoration. Many politicians active under the new Meiji government hailed from Chōshū.
Abe’s first tenure as prime minister began in September 2006, but he resigned after just one year due to health problems. He returned to the helm of the LDP in September 2012, when the Democratic Party of Japan was still in power, and in December of that year returned to the office of prime minister after the LDP regained power in a House of Representatives election. As of November 19, he has held the post in his current administration for 2,520 days.
Prime Minister Abe’s current tenure as LDP president will not expire until September 30, 2021, and if he serves as the head of government until then, his total term in office will stretch to 3,567 days.
The rules of the LDP state that the post of president can be held for three consecutive terms, totaling nine years, but some within the party are calling for Abe to be allowed to serve a fourth term. However, others have pointed to the arrogance of the long-serving government, as reflected in two members of the Cabinet resigning after a reshuffle and the much-discussed suspicion that the prime minister invited many political supporters to attend publicly funded cherry-blossom viewing events hosted annually by the prime minister.
(Translated from Japanese. Originally published on October 3, 2018; most recent update on November 20, 2019. Banner photo: from left to right, Abe Shinzō © Jiji, Katsura Tarō © National Diet Library, Satō Eisaku © Jiji, Itō Hirobumi © National Diet Library.)