Who is Shinzo Abe? - Seeker's Thoughts

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Who is Shinzo Abe?

On 28th August 2020,  The prime minister of  Japan Shinzo Abe came in front of cameras to declare his retirement for health reasons. He talked about all his supposed success: a radical COVID-19 response, a good economy, and progress in rebuilding the radiation-plagued Fukushima area, efforts to counter North Korea.

He said, poor health should not influence political decisions, and as long as I am unable to meet the expectations of the Japanese people, I have decided that I cannot stay on as prime minister and will step down. In politics, the most important thing is to produce a result. For seven years and eight months, he has done his best to get results, but he has been struggling with my illness and I need treatment.

Abe has lost a lot of energy and strength. He apologized for leaving office before resolving the war abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korea and a territorial dispute with Russia.

65 years old Abe was given a second chance as Prime Minister in later 2012 after newly available drugs helped him manage the symptoms of Ulcerative colitis, a condition that helped bring his first stint as a leader to a premature end in 2007.

Abe’s resignation brings an end to a period in office that began with vows to reform the economy after decades of stagnation, counter china growing influence in the region and give a more prominent role to Japan’s self-defense force.

Abe’s early life and as Prime minister
Shinzo Abe was a member of a prominent political family. His grandfather Kishi Nobusuke served as Japan’s prime minister from 1957 to 1960, his great-uncle Sato Eisaku held the same post from 1964 to 1972. He graduated from Seikei University in Tokyo (1977), then he moved to the United States, where he studied political science at the University of Southern California Los Angeles.

He returned to Japan in 1979 and joined Kobe steel, Ltd. He subsequently became active in the Liberal Democratic Party (LPD), and in 1982 he began working as secretary to his father, Abe Shintaro, who was Japan’s foreign minister.

Abe won a seat in the lower house of the Diet (parliament) in 1993, and later held a series of government posts. He garnered much support for his tough stance toward North Korea especially after that country revealed in 2002 that it had kidnapped 12 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 80s. Abe, who was then deputy chief cabinet secretary, oversaw the subsequent negotiations.

In 2003 Abe was named secretary-general of the LDP, due to LDP term limits, prime minister and LDP leader Koizumi Junichiro were forced to leave office in 2006, and he was succeeded in both posts by Abe. He became the country’s first prime minister to have been born after World War II and it’s youngest since the war.

Abe sought more to strengthen ties with the United States and pursued a more assertive foreign policy. He supported the United Nations sanctions against North Korea following that country’s nuclear test and imposed a set of unilateral sanctions on North Korea that included a ban on all visits to Japanese ports by North Korean vessels.

Abe also pledged to revise the country’s post-war constitution, which placed severe restrictions on its military. In domestic affairs, he promised to shore up the country’s pension and health insurance systems. But, his government soon became embroiled in a series of public gaffes and financial scandals.

His administration drew criticism for its slow response to the discovery that for decades the government had been mishandling the pension records of millions of citizens. In 2007 the LPD lost its majority in the upper house to a coalition led by the democratic party of Japan (DPJ), and in September Shinzo Abe announced that was resigning. He was succeeded by Fukuda Yasuo.

Abe’s second term
he retained his seat in the lower house of the parliament but for few years he remained quiet politically, especially after a DPJ headed the coalition took control of the government in 2009. That changed, however, when he was again elected leader of the LDP in September 2012.

 One of his first acts was to pay a visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, a memorial to Japan’s Military dead that includes individuals convicted for war crimes during World War II. That action precipitated loud protests from other countries in the Asia-pacific region and he provoked further controversy over his views on the sovereignty of islands in the pacific that was disputed between China and Japan, as well as for his stance favoring revision of the pacifism clause in the Japanese constitution.

Eventually, the LDP won a landslide victory in lower-house elections on December 16, 2012. On December 26 the new LDP majority in the chamber-bolstered by the members of the party’s coalition partner.

And then New Komeito overwhelmingly approved Abe as Prime Minister. He was replaced the DJP’s Noda Yoshihiko, who resigned from the office that day.

His critics and supporters
To his critics, Abe represents that attitude of an older, conservative generation intent on downplaying Japan’s wartime record, while pursuing a potentially troubling and overly assertive foreign policy. On the other hand to his supporters, the prime minister has boosted the country’s global standing, realizing its national interest by harmonizing it's legitimate ambitions with its clout as the world’s third-largest economy.

In reality, both images of Mr. Abe are right.
As an instinctive conservative politician intent on restoring Japan’s pride both at home and abroad, Abe worked consistently during his working period for eight years in office to bolster the country’s national identity and historical tradition.

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