Celebrities across Japan were furious over the recent move taken by the Prime Minister of the country, Shinzo Abe to extend the tenure of office of the prosecutors amid the socio-economic crisis impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. Many filmmakers and actors have posted their criticisms using social media by calling Abe’s move to raise the retirement age of prosecutors as undemocratic and irrational during the economic and health crisis caused by the pandemic.
Criticisms against Abe’s Recent Move
Critics, attacking Abe’s handling of the virus pandemic in the country, put forward their concerns that the extension of the prosecutor’s retirement age would harm the spirit of democracy as it might involve the case of favoritism in the administration, which endangered prosecutors’ independence. Moreover, the timing of Abe’s plan during the virus pandemic was considered to be unappropriated as the leader should be rather focusing on addressing economic and health issues.
On Monday, May 11, 2020, a public survey published in the Nikkei daily showed that 55% of respondents disapproved of Abe’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, which was a surge of 11 points from a previous poll, although support for Abe’s cabinet on the issue remained stuck at 49%, after a decline this year.
Among more than 3.7 million messages shared over the weekend regarding the new move of the Abe government, a well-known Japanese director, Amon Miyamoto said on Twitter, “In the midst of the coronavirus calamity, we should focus on people’s lives,” adding that “To forcibly decide on a law that is clearly divorced from democracy is a tragedy for Japan.” Similarly, “Please do not distort the law and politics for your own protection,” actor Arata Iura said on Twitter, “Please do not destroy this country.”
Abe Defended His Move
While the issue to raise prosecutors’ retirement age to 65 from 63 is still pending in the Parliament of Japan as well needs cabinet approval, Abe defended his recent move by emphasizing that the change was made in line with those for other civil servants in the country. Citing the country needs “full use of the rich experience and knowledge” of older officials, Abe added, “It’s wrong to argue that (the revised law) would lead to arbitrary personnel decisions by the cabinet.”
Earlier, Abe faced strong allegations from the public when the chief of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutor’s Office, who is seen as close to the premier, was allowed to stay on the same position in the public office after turning 63. Terming “The legislation would clearly destroy the separation of powers,” an independent political analyst Atsuo Ito said, “People are angry that they are trying to enact this speedily at a time when we face anxiety over the coronavirus.”
A public broadcaster NHK reported on Monday that Japan has not suffered the explosive surge, unlike other nations, its tally, however, has reached 15,847 cases including 633 deaths. Since the pandemic has caused a crushing blow to the economy, with analysts’ suggestion of a state of a Great Depression-like downturn among Japan’s central bankers, Abe promised further swift stimulus measures on Monday.
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