By CHISAKI WATANABE
The Associated Press
Wednesday, September 12, 2007; 2:45 AM
TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Wednesday he will resign, ending a year-old government that has suffered a string of damaging scandals and a humiliating electoral defeat.
Abe, said he was quitting to pave the way for ruling and opposition parties to work together to approve the extension of Tokyo’s naval mission in support of the U.S.-led operation in Afghanistan.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe holds a draft of his keynote speech as he attends at the opening of the 62-day extraordinary session at Parliament in Tokyo Monday, Sept. 10, 2007. Abe has told ruling party leaders he wants to resign, news reports said Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2007. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye) (Itsuo Inouye – AP)
“In the present situation it is difficult to push ahead with effective policies that win the support and trust of the public,” Abe said in a nationally televised news conference. “I have decided that we need a change in this situation.”
Abe, a nationalist whose support rating has plunged to 30 percent, also cited the ruling party’s defeat in July 29 elections, in which the opposition took control of the upper house of parliament.