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Who is Shinzo Abe? Japan’s former prime minister who was shot at election event

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Shinzo Abe. Picture by Franck Robichon/EPA/Bloomberg

Shinzo Abe. Picture by Franck Robichon/EPA/Bloomberg

Shinzo Abe. Picture by Franck Robichon/EPA/Bloomberg

Shinzo Abe is best known for his signature “Abenomics” policy featured bold monetary easing and fiscal spending.

He also bolstered defence spending after years of declines and expanded the military’s ability to project power abroad.

In a historic shift in 2014, his government reinterpreted the postwar, pacifist constitution to allow troops to fight overseas for the first time since World War Two.

The following year, legislation ended a ban on exercising the right of collective self-defence, or defending a friendly country under attack.

Abe, however, did not achieve his long-held goal of revising the U.S.-drafted constitution by writing the Self-Defense Forces, as Japan’s military in known, into the pacifist Article 9.

He was instrumental in winning the 2020 Olympics for Tokyo, cherishing a wish to preside over the Games, which were postponed by a year to 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abe first took office in 2006 as Japan’s youngest prime minister since World War Two. After a year plagued by political scandals, voter outrage at lost pension records, and an election drubbing for his ruling party, Abe quit citing ill health.

He became prime minister again in 2012.

Abe hails from a wealthy political family that included a foreign minister father and a grandfather who served as premier.

First elected to parliament in 1993 after his father's death, Abe rose to national fame by adopting a tough stance toward unpredictable neighbour North Korea in a feud over Japanese citizens kidnapped by Pyongyang decades ago.

Though Abe also sought to improve ties with China and South Korea, where bitter wartime memories run deep, he riled both neighbours in 2013 by visiting Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, seen by Beijing and Seoul as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

In later years in office, Abe refrained from visiting in person and instead sent ritual offerings.

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