Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dies after being shot During a campaign speech on Friday in Nara. He was 67 years old.
Abe served two separate terms as Japanese leader for right-wing leanings Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) – first from 2006 to 2007, then from 2012 to 2020. His second term was the longest in a row for the head of the Japanese government.
He came from a family of Japanese prime ministers
Abe was born on September 21, 1954, in Tokyo into a prominent political family. Both his grandfather and great-grandfather served as prime minister, and his father was a former general secretary of the LDP.
Abe was first elected to Japan’s House of Representatives in 1993 at the age of 38. He served in several cabinet positions in the 2000s and became the General Secretary of the LDP in 2003. Four years later, he was named president of the party and became the Prime Minister of Japan.
His first term was marred by controversies and deteriorating health, and he stepped down as party leader and prime minister in 2007. The end of Abe’s first term opened a revolving door in which five different people took over as prime minister over the five years until his reelection. – Elections in 2012. He stepped down in 2020 citing ill health.
He remained an influential leader even after leaving office
After leaving office, Abe remained at the head of the largest faction of the ruling LDP and remained influential within the party. He has continued to campaign for a stronger security policy and last year angered China by calling for greater commitment from allies to defend democracy in Taiwan. In response, Beijing summoned Japan’s ambassador and accused Abe of openly challenging China’s sovereignty.
Abe redefines Japan’s diplomatic and military policy
Abe will be remembered for raising and advancing defense spending through the most dramatic change in Japanese military policy in 70 years. In 2015, his government passed a reinterpretation of the pacifist constitution, post-war Japan, for the first time since World War II, allowing Japanese soldiers to engage in foreign warfare – with conditions.
Abe argued that the change was needed to respond to the more challenging security environment, the more assertive China and the frequent missile tests in North Korea.
During his tenure, Abe sought to improve relations with Beijing and held a historic phone call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in 2018. At the same time, he tried to counter Chinese expansion in the region by uniting Pacific allies.
He attempted to build a personal relationship with Donald Trump, the former President of the United States. As for Washington’s relationship with Pyongyang inclined to diplomacy
Japan’s relations with South Korea soured during his tenure. The two countries were involved in a major dispute in which trade and military intelligence deals were terminated, partly due to the legacy of World War II and Japan’s brutal colonization of the Korean Peninsula.
Abe came into office at a time of economic turmoil and was soon set to restart Japan’s economy after decades of stagnation. Soon after being re-elected prime minister in 2012, he began a grand experiment known as “Abenomics”.
This involved three so-called arrows – massive monetary stimulus, increased government spending and structural reforms.
After a strong start, it faltered and in 2015 Abe removed The “three new arrows” designed to boost GDP. Any hope that they might eventually make their mark was dashed when Covid-19 swept the country in 2020, plunging Japan into recession.
One of Abe’s major domestic achievements was securing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. But the success of the much-anticipated Tokyo Games was eventually undone by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the postponement of the competition to 2021.
Abe was declared a state of emergency after the first cases were detected. His administration was also criticized for a low rate of testing and an early lack of specialist medical equipment to treat the growing number of patients.
Abe’s management was more successful in the case of the abdication of Emperor Akihito, the first Japanese emperor to step down in two centuries. He was succeeded by his son, Emperor Naruhito, in October 2019, beginning the Reiwa era.
Abe is survived by his wife Aki Abe, nee Matsuzaki, whom he married in 1987. The couple did not have children.