Shinzō Abe was a Japanese politician who served as Prime Minister of Japan and President of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020. At the time of his death he was the longest-serving prime minister in Japanese history. Abe also served as Chief Cabinet Secretary from 2005 to 2006 under Junichiro Koizumi and was briefly the opposition leader in 2012. Abe was elected to the House of Representatives in the 1993 election.
Abe was appointed Chief Cabinet Secretary by Prime Minister Koizumi in 2005 before replacing him as prime minister and LDP president the following year. Confirmed by the National Diet, Abe became Japan’s youngest post-war prime minister and the first born after World War II. Abe resigned as prime minister after one year due to ulcerative colitis and his party’s recent losses.
After recovering, Abe staged an unexpected political comeback by defeating Shigeru Ishiba, the former defense minister, to become LDP president in 2012. Following the LDP’s landslide victory in the that year’s general election, Abe became the first former prime minister to return to the office since Shigeru Yoshida in 1948. He led the LDP to further victories in the 2014 and 2017 elections, becoming Japan’s longest-serving prime minister.
In 2020, Abe resigned as prime minister, citing a relapse of his colitis, and was succeeded by Yoshihide Suga. Abe was a staunch conservative whom political commentators had described as a right-wing Japanese nationalist. Associated with the Nippon Kaigi, he held negationist views on Japanese history, including denying the role of government coercion in the recruitment of comfort women during World War II, a position which caused tensions particularly with South Korea.
Under his premiership, relations further strained in 2019 over disputes about reparations. Earlier that same year, Abe’s government initiated a trade war with South Korea and warned them to the International Court of Justice, after the country’s Supreme Court stated that reparations should be made by Japanese companies who had benefited from forced labor.
Abe was also considered a hard-liner with respect to Japan’s military policies. In 2007, he initiated the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue during his first tenure as prime minister, aimed at resisting China’s rise as a superpower. He advocated reforming the Japan Self-Defense Forces by revising Article 9 of the Japanese constitution that outlawed declarations of war.
He enacted military reforms in 2015 that allowed Japan to exercise collective security by allowing JSDF deployments overseas, the passage of which was controversial and met with protests. Economically, Abe attempted to counter Japan’s economic stagnation with “Abenomics”, with mixed results. Abe was also credited with reinstating the Trans-Pacific Partnership with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
A polarizing figure in Japanese politics, Abe’s supporters praised him as a patriot who worked to strengthen Japan’s security and international stature, while his opponents denounced him as an ultranationalist whose policies and negationist views on history threatened Japanese pacifism and damaged relations with its neighbors. Commentators have suggested that his legacy pushed Japan towards more proactive military spending, security and economic policies.
On 8 July 2022, Abe was shot by a former member of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force while delivering a campaign speech in Nara two days before the 10 July upper house elections; he was later pronounced dead in hospital. The suspect, who was arrested at the scene, confessed to targeting Abe because of the latter’s ties with the Unification Church. Abe’s assassination was the first assassination of a former Japanese Prime Minister since 1936.
Shinzō Abe had an estimated net worth of $10 million at the time of his death.
|Date of birth:
|September 21, 1954
|Date of death:
|July 8, 2022
|Source of wealth:
|Former Prime Minister of Japan