Latest Updates: Stunned Japan seeks motive in Abe’s assassination
Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, who made it his political mission to defeat his country’s ghosts of war but failed to achieve his goal of restoring Japan as a normalized military power, was assassinated Friday in the city of Nara, Japan. He was 67 years old.
Mr Abe, the scion of a family of staunchly nationalist prominent politicians, had the longest uninterrupted term as prime minister in Japanese history, nearly eight years from 2012. He previously served one year as head of the country.
Its long run has delivered only partial victories on its two main ambitions: to liberate the Japanese military after decades of post-war pacifism and to revive and overhaul its economy. He resigned as prime minister in August 2020, a year before the end of his term, citing health concerns.
One of his most significant moves came in 2015, when, in the face of intense opposition, he pushed through legislation allowing overseas combat missions alongside Allied troops in the name of “self-defense collective”. But he failed in his long-held dream of revising the war waiver clause of the Japanese Constitution, put in place by the American occupiers after World War II.
Mr Abe’s economic agenda, known as Abenomics, involved cheap money, government spending on stimulus projects that increased the country’s debt and attempts to deregulate business. The combination paid off in the early years of his tenure, lifting the economy out of lingering malaise.
A key driver of Mr Abe’s economic platform was to attract more women into the paid workforce, to counterbalance a declining and aging population. But the promise to drastically increase the proportion of women in management and government has not materialized.
On the international stage, Mr. Abe was one of the few world leaders to enjoy a consistently close relationship with President Donald J. Trump. And after years of chilly relations with China, Mr Abe tried to usher in a warmer era, making the first visit to Beijing by a Japanese prime minister in seven years when he met President Xi Jinping in 2018. .
As Mr. Abe strove to cultivate diplomatic and trade relations around the world, he never lost sight of his nationalist agenda at home. A year after taking office in 2012, he visited Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan’s war dead, including World War II war criminals. Although he has largely avoided further visits, he has resisted calls from Japan to apologize further for its wartime atrocities, a sore point in Korea and China.
He reiterated his support for past official statements of remorse, but also seemed to suggest that Japan had done enough. “We must not let our children, our grandchildren and even future generations, who have nothing to do with this war, be predestined to apologize,” he said in 2015.
Shinzo Abe was born on September 21, 1954 in Tokyo to Shintaro and Yoko Abe. His mother was the daughter of Nobusuke Kishi, Prime Minister from 1957 to 1960, who had been accused of war crimes by the American occupiers, but who was eventually released from prison without appearing before the Allied war crimes tribunal.
Mr Abe’s father was also a politician and served as foreign minister.