Shinzo Abe was Japan's first prime minister born after the end of the Second World War. He rose to power on the promise of changing the postwar order of the world and building a "strong, flourishing Japan," while also seeking to increase Japanese influence on the global stage. Abe's greatest accomplishment was to lead a nation that had seen numerous prime ministers come and go in quick succession, back into calmer waters.
For some, Abe symbolized a chauvinist, ultraconservative and backward-looking Japan by refusing to express contrition for the country's war of aggression in Asia. For others, he was a pragmatic reformer who strengthened Japan's economy and its ties with the US, ensuring that it would never become a "tier-two nation" as he once said.
The Diet (parliament) on December 26, 2012 selected Shinzo Abe to again lead the country after his Liberal Democratic Party scored a solid comeback in elections December 16, 2012. That ended a three-year stay in power for the Democratic Party of Japan. Abe said his top priorities are to overcome the country's economic and diplomatic crises. Abe said he wants to achieve results as soon as possible to earn the public's trust and avoid the fate of many of his predecessors who could barely last one year in office.
It is a stunning comeback for Abe, a third-generation politician, who suddenly resigned as prime minister five years earlier amid declining popularity. Abe said medication was effectively treating the inflammatory bowel disease that compelled him to step aside just short of one year in office in 2007. There were five prime ministers in between Abe's previous departure and his return to the post.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, at the age of 51, became the youngest Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) president in history on 20 September 2006, taking 66 percent of the vote in an election that was his to lose from the start. He needed to gain only a simple majority of the votes to win outright and avoid a runoff.
Abe’s father was Shintaro Abe, former secretary-general of the LDP, and his grandfather was former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi. A high-level official in the Japanese-sponsored government in Manchuria in the late 1930s, Nobusuke Kishi served as Minister of Commerce and of Industry and Munitions during World War II. Arrested in 1945 as a war criminal, he was imprisoned for three years as a suspected war criminal, only returning to political life with the end of the Occupation. Prime Minister at the time of the conclusion of the US-Japan Mutual Security Treaty in 1960, Nobusuke Kishi was a major actor in some of the most important events in modern Japanese history.
Born in 1954, Abe graduated from the Department of Political Science, Faculty of Law, Seikei University in 1977, and in 1979 entered Kobe Steel, Ltd. He became Executive Assistant to the Minister for Foreign Affairs in 1982, and was elected for the first time to the House of Representatives in 1993. By 1999 Abe was Director of the Committee on Health and Welfare, House of Representatives, and Director of the Social Affairs Division, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
In the year 2000 he served as Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary in the Second Mori Cabinet, and Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary in the Reshuffled Second Mori Cabinet. The following year, Abe was Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, First Koizumi Cabinet, and in 2002 he was Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, Reshuffled First Koizumi Cabinet. In 2003 Abe was elected Secretary General of the LDP, and two years later he became Chief Cabinet Secretary, Reshuffled Third Koizumi Cabinet. In 2006, he was elected the 90th Prime Minister of Japan.
When Shinzo Abe was about to take office as Japan's Prime Minister, The New York Times and other news media published many articles and reports on the rise of Japanese nationalism represented by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and his successor, Shinzo Abe. According to The New York Times, Mr. Abe intends that Japanese "take pride in their country . . . and promote the ideal of a proud and independent Japan."3Mr. Abe has a big vision for the future of Japan. "He has vowed to push through a sweeping education bill, strengthening the notion of patriotism in public classrooms in a way not seen since the fall of Imperial Japan, and to rewrite Japan's pacifist constitution to allow the country to again have an official and flexible military."
"The rise of Abe, an unabashed nationalist set to be Japan's youngest post postwar prime minister and its first to be born after the conflict, underscores a profound shift in thinking that has been shaped by those threats." "Rather than getting praised for wrestling a good round of sumo under the rules that foreign countries make, we should join in the making of the rules," Abe said in a televised debate in September 2006, "I believe I can create a new Japan with a new vision."
In Abe's latest book, Toward a Beautiful Country, Japan's new leader cast doubt on the legitimacy of the Tokyo war crimes tribunal that convicted Japan's wartime leaders. Abe crafted a comparatively ambitious vision. Although he maintained Koizumi's emphasis on the U.S.-Japan alliance as the basis of national defense, he also suggested he wanted Japan to be a more equal partner. Mr. Abe said in his first news conference as prime minister. "I want to make Japan a country that shows its identity to the world." He told reporters that one goal of his administration was to revise Japan's pacifist constitution to permit a full-fledged military.
Abe succeeded Koizumi as prime minister on September 26, when the current cabinet resigns en masse on the opening day of the extraordinary Diet session. He was expected to announce his choices for party executive posts on September 25, and his new cabinet lineup on September 26. Abe, who took office as the first prime minister born after the end of World War II, was eligible to serve two three-year terms. In brief remarks, he promised to "carry on the torch of reform,"
On 26 September 2006 newly elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his Cabinet. In general, he made conservative choices and included many politicians with whom he has close relations as well as those who actively supported his campaign. Despite Abe's claim that he would avoid appointing a Cabinet based on factional strength, the largest Mori faction -- and his former faction -- received the most appointments. Abe's Ministers will likely form a Cabinet of congeniality and consensus but they may lack the clout and experience to strong-arm bureaucrats, the opposition party, and contrarian ruling party politicians into passing legislation.
Abe and the party received high popularity ratings at the beginning of 2007. But the ratings plummeted following a series of scandals. First, the government admitted it had mishandled thousands of pension records. Four cabinet ministers have since resigned following accusations of financial wrongdoing, and a fifth committed suicide just before being questioned in yet another financial scandal. In late July, when the LDP met sweeping losses in upper-house elections, Japanese investors faced “paralysis” amid worries reforms would wither. On 27 August 2007 Abe reshuffled both his cabinet and the leadership of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party following the party's disastrous defeat in parliamentary elections, when the LDP lost control of the upper house of parliament for the first time since World War II. The vote was seen as a reaction to the series of missteps and scandals that have plagued the Abe administration almost since he took power. Abe needed a united LDP front after his crushing defeat in the July 2006 upper house election.
In early September 2007 Abe said he would resign if lawmakers did not extend a Japanese naval mission in support of U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan. Japan's navy has been refueling coalition warships in the Indian Ocean since 2001. The law enabling that mission is set to expire November 1, and the opposition Democratic Party, which won control of the upper house of parliament in July, opposes an extension.
In an early afternoon press conference on 12 September 2007, Abe unexpectedly told reporters that he thought it would be better for a new leader to take the helm, since it would be difficult for him to regain public confidence and unify the party. Shinzo Abe announced his intention to step down as Prime Minister and President of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), citing his concern that his continued tenure as PM is making it difficult for Japan to live up to its international commitments by passing legislation to permit Japan to continue to contribute to OEF. He said that he had only decided to step down that morning, and the first word on the resignation came from LDP Secretary General Aso around noon. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yosano and Foreign Minister Machimura appeared unaware of Abe's plans in meetings with the US Ambassador just minutes before word of the Prime Minister's press conference.
Some claimed Abe had resigned for unnamed health reasons, speculation that was supported by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yosano's subsequent reference to concerns about Abe's health, particularly after his return from a trip to India and Southeast Asia. Others offered that some sort of brewing scandal was about to emerge. Both LDP lawmakers and opposition leaders quickly labeled Abe's planned resignation as "irresponsible" in their public comments.
Prime Minister Abe and his ministers continued in their positions until a new Prime Minister was elected by the Lower House, in accordance with the Japanese Constitution. There was pressure on the party to have a new president, and thus Prime Minister, in place in time to give Japan's speech at UNGA during its slot the evening of September 25. Yasuo Fukuda became Japan's 30th post-war Prime Minister on 26 September 2007. The Lower House overwhelmingly elected Fukuda Prime Minister early in the afternoon, but the opposition-controlled Upper House flexed its newfound muscle by choosing Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) President Ichiro Ozawa to be PM, which temporarily stalled the proceedings. Japan's Constitution stipulates that the Lower House takes precedence over the Upper House in a prime ministerial vote, but a joint committee of the two houses first tried to resolve the split, pushing the official announcement of Fukuda's election to early evening. As many predicted, Fukuda kept predecessor Shinzo Abe's cabinet largely intact to eliminate the need for new Ministers to prepare for Diet deliberations, which began on October 1.
Abe was praised for his efforts to improve ties with China and South Korea, which were badly damaged during his predecessor's term. Although universally panned for their leadership limitations, a troika of prime ministers - Taro Aso, Yasuo Fukuda, and Shinzo Abe - maintained smooth ties by stressing the importance of high-level dialogue and visits, and by avoiding visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine -- the commemorative resting place of Japan's war dead, including 14 class A war criminals.
On September 26, 2012 Shinzo Abe, who had served as prime minister between 2006 and 2007, was elected president of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party. In the field of five conservative candidates in the election, Abe took the hardest line, calling for revising Japan’s peace Constitution to allow a full military, and supporting patriotic education that teaches a more sympathetic view of Japan’s actions during World War II. Abe, who defeated ex-defense chief Shigeru Ishiba in a run-off election, could get another chance to lead Japan, if the LDP wins next election as polls suggest. The conservative leader has taken a hawkish stance against China, as well as South Korea, which are both locked in territorial disputes with Tokyo.
On 17 October 2012 Shinzo Abe offered prayers at the Yasukuni Shrine, where the souls of Class-A war criminals are enshrined. Yasukuni is viewed as a symbol of Japan's early 20th century militarism. Abe had supported his predecessor as PM Koizumi's controversial visits to the Yasukuni war shrine, which have angered Beijing and Seoul. The day after the Shinzo Abe, offered prayers there, two Japanese cabinet ministers, former prime minister Yoshiro Mori and more than 60 other lawmakers from various parties visited the Yasukuni shrine. China and South Korea criticized the latest round of visits to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine by members of the Japanese cabinet. The visits prompted quick criticism in other Asian countries. Current Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of the DPJ had refrained from visiting Yasukuni and had asked that members of his cabinet not visit.
On 05 March 2017 Japan's governing Liberal Democratic Party officially decided to allow its president to hold the post for 3 successive 3-year terms. The decision was made at the LDP's convention. About 3,500 members of Parliament and representatives of the party's prefectural branches attended the event at a hotel in Tokyo. LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai proposed extending the president's term at the convention, and the proposal was endorsed. The current rule allowed 2 consecutive 3-year terms. LDP President and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in his 2nd term. He would now be able to seek another 3-year term in the party's presidential election that will be held in September 2018.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the country's longest-serving leader, announced at a press conference on 28 August 2020 that he has decided to step down due to health reasons. "Now that I am not able to fulfill the mandate from the people with confidence, I have decided that I should no longer occupy the position of the prime minister," Abe said. The 65-year-old politician battled ulcerative colitis disease for years, and two recent hospital visits within a week had fanned questions on whether he could stay in the job until the end of his term as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and hence, premier, in September 2021.
Abe has suffered from ulcerative colitis, an incurable chronic inflammation of the colon, since he was a teen. It forced him into early retirement during his first term as prime minister in 2006 and 2007, but a new medication enabled him to make a comeback. Ulcerative colitis is a chronic, or long lasting, disease that causes inflammation—irritation or swelling—and sores called ulcers on the inner lining of the large intestine. Ulcerative colitis most often begins gradually and can become worse over time. Symptoms can be mild to severe. Most people have periods of remission—times when symptoms disappear—that can last for weeks or years. The exact cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown. Stress does not seem to cause ulcerative colitis. The most common signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis are diarrhea with blood or pus and abdominal discomfort. While no medication cures ulcerative colitis, many can reduce symptoms. Researchers have not found that eating, diet, and nutrition play a role in causing ulcerative colitis symptoms.
During his first tenure as prime minister, which started in late September 2006, Abe abruptly stepped down from his post in 2007 due to chronic ulcerative colitis. He returned as prime minister for a rare second term in December 2012, pledging to revive growth with his "Abenomics" mix of hyper-easy monetary policy, fiscal spending and reforms. He also pledged to beef up Japan's defense and aimed to revise the pacifist constitution. Abe said his health started declining around mid-July, and he did not want it to impact on important policy decisions.
Abe, who on 24 August 2020 surpassed the record for the longest consecutive tenure as Japan's premier set by his great-uncle Eisaku Sato half a century ago, said at the press briefing that he will continue his political career and will run in the next election "as a member of the House of Representatives" in the National Diet – Japan's parliament.
Under fire for his handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic and scandals among party members, Abe had seen his support fall to the lowest levels in his nearly eight years in office. Japan has not suffered the explosive surge in virus cases seen elsewhere, but Abe has drawn fire for a clumsy early response and what critics see as a lack of leadership as infections spread. In the second quarter of 2020, Japan was hit by its biggest economic slump on record as the pandemic emptied shopping malls and crushed demand for cars and other exports, bolstering the case for bolder policy action to avert a deeper recession.
Abe kept his promises to strengthen Japan's defense, boosting spending on the military after years of declines and expanding its capacity to project power abroad. In a historic shift in 2014, his government re-interpreted the constitution to allow Japanese troops to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. A year later, Japan adopted laws scrapping a ban on exercising the right of collective self-defense or defending a friendly country under attack. But Abe proved unable to revise the U.S.-drafted, post-war constitution's pacifist Article 9, a personal mission that also eluded his grandfather, Kishi Nobusuke, who quit as premier in 1960 because of the uproar over a U.S-Japan security pact.
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