Giving A Renewed Sense Of Confidence
He had tendered his resignation as the Prime Minister, citing health reasons in 2020, and apologised to his countrymen for failing to complete his term in office. By that time, Shinzo Abe (September 21, 1954 – July 8, 2022) became the longest-serving Prime Minister of Japan. Diplomats are of the opinion that Abe took Japan to another level in Global Politics in those seven years and eight months. After his assassination on July 8, 2022 in Nara, the foreign media started highlighting various aspects of his diplomatic success; while the Japanese media are discussing the importance of Abe in National Politics.
As Abe was born and brought up in a political family, it was natural for him to join politics. His maternal grandfather Nobusuke Kishi (November 13, 1896 – August 7, 1987), too, had served as the Prime Minister of Japan from 1957 to 1960, while his father Shintaro Abe (April 29, 1924 – May 15, 1991) had served as Foreign Minister from 1982 to 1986. Abe returned to Japan in 1979 after pursuing a Degree in Public Policy at the School of Policy, Planning, and Development (now the USC Price School of Public Policy) of University of Southern California, and immediately joined politics. He became the Prime Minister in 2006 for the first time. Although he resigned from the post within a year because of the poor performance of his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in elections and his illness, Abe became the PM yet again in 2012.
Since 2012, he, in a way, did not look back. While his poverty alleviation policy garnered praise, Abe showed the courage to amend the Constitution in order to counter growing influence of China in the Indo-Pacific Region. Japan did not pay much attention to increasing its arsenal after the Second World War. However, the Government of Japan, led by Abe, decided to increase defence spending. Initially, people opposed his decision. Later, they realised that it was necessary for Japan to boost its arsenal in order to counter China.
Abe was instrumental in forming the QUAD (or the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD), a strategic security dialogue between Australia, India, Japan and the US) in 2007 to reduce China’s monopoly in the Indo-Pacific. The move is considered as his greatest diplomatic success. He also realised the importance of India in Asian Politics. He always maintained cordial ties with the South Asian nation.
Still, Tokyo’s diplomatic relations with Beijing reached new heights during Abe’s tenure as the Prime Minister. In 2014, he met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing for their first formal talks since 2012 on the sidelines of Apec Meeting, marking a diplomatic breakthrough after years of soured bilateral ties competing territorial claims in the East China Sea. Abe maintained cordial relations with the US even after Donald Trump became President in 2017. However, his policy towards neighbouring North Korea had always been strict.
India announced one-day of state mourning over the death of Abe, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailing the former Japanese PM as a global statesman who made an immense contribution to elevating bilateral ties. In a set of tweets, PM Modi said: “I am shocked and saddened beyond words at the tragic demise of one of my dearest friends, Shinzo Abe. He was a towering global statesman, an outstanding leader, and a remarkable administrator. He dedicated his life to making Japan and the world a better place.”
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