- In-Country Power
- International Power
- Military Strength
- Special Skill: Re-Kindling Kaiju
- Official Title: Prime Minister
- Government: Well-established democracy
- Years Left in Office: Indefinite; no term limits
- Political Classification: Center-left
- Education: BA Political Science & Public Policy
- Age: 62 (born October 20, 1954)
Shinzō Abe Facts and Information
- Has been Prime Minister of Japan Twice
- Ideologically liberal and has stimulated the Japanese economy with government spending colloquially known now for Japan specifically as “Abenomics”
- First Prime Minister of Japan born after WWII
- Working to improve relations with other Asian states despite Japanese past and history. His efforts to do this though are somewhat restricted due to previous comments made about old military brothel houses and his visits to the Yasukuni Shrine.
Let’s talk about Abe. Good ‘ol Honest Abe…wait a minute…what the hell…this isn’t Abraham Lincoln. No, we are talking about the 57th Prime Minister of Japan; Shinzō Abe. Abe has been rocking this position of Prime Minister since 2012. Now, I know what you’re thinking right now. “Wow. This guy is pretty new. He’s only been in power for 2 years!” Well, this guy’s track record can be slightly misleading. For those of you who have seen the Plaid Avenger’s lectures, you can probably recall the issue I pointed out with Japanese Prime Ministers. There are so many problems inside of Japan that the guys in charge are literally throwing in the towel. Abe’s predecessors Yoshihiko Noda, Naoto Kan, Yukio Hatoyama have lasted about 15, 15, and 9 months in office respectively. Since 2006, Japan has seen 7 switch offs between Prime Ministers. So what makes Abe fit for the job? Let’s delve into this guy’s life, job, and leadership to see how one can truly manage one of the world’s most prosperous states.
Shinzō Abe was born Nagato, Yamaguchi, Japan on September 21, 1954. It would seem that Abe was destined to lead. It was literally in his blood. Not only was his father and grandfather politicians, but he was the grandson of Nobusuke Kishi, the Prime Minister of Japan from 1957 to 1960! How cool is that? The man was literally born for the job! Abe’s pursuit of education eventually led him to studying political science at Seikei University in Tokyo followed by a jump across the pacific to the University of Southern California’s School of Public Policy. Interestingly enough though, Abe dropped out of school around 1979. However, he was determined to eventually continue on his family’s legacy and break into government and politics in the upcoming years.
Abe’s first real taste of politics came in 1993 when he was elected to the first district of the Yamaguchi Prefecture. This prefecture is a member of Japan’s 47 administrative divisions and is located on one of the southern tips of the Honshū islands. Still following in his father’s and family’s footsteps, Abe became affiliated with the Mori Faction of the Liberal Democratic Party. Way back in the day, this was the exact faction that was led by Abe’s father. Abe’s greatest contributions to Japanese society in his rise to power can be focused on two specific incidents, hostage negotiations and education reform.
Yes, you heard the Plaid Avenger correctly. Honest Abe is fixing schools by day and serving as an international superhero by night. Let me give a little bit more context though before you let your imagination run off to far. From 1977 to 1983, crazy-kooky North Korea decided it would be a good idea to have secret operatives abduct Japanese citizens. For years the two countries exchanged a wild collection of “he said” / “she said” stories and it was widely believed that these abductions were a conspiracy rather than a pressing issue. But the floodgates were opened in 2002 when talks eventually lead to Kim Jong-il to admit that Japanese citizens were abducted. Abe was chief negotiator for this crisis and eventually, 5 abductees were allowed to visit Japan so long as they would be returned back to North Korea. Once the abductees were safely back in Japan, Abe told North Korea that despite their wishes, the abductees were not going to return. Abe completely denied North Korea’s wishes in front of the entire world! He was a national hero for handing the situation. No wonder this guy became so popular!
This incident continues to be justification for modification of the current Japanese Constitution. As it stands, Japan is not allowed to have a formal military. They do have a rocking collection of tanks, soldiers, etc. through their Self-Defense Force, but this is only for peace-keeping terms, much like the National Guard for the United States. Anyways, this abduction incident has been used by Japanese nationalists and Abe himself to promote modifying the Japanese Constitution to reduce the restrictions placed on military power. This makes sense. Anyone would be crazy to not want their own military force when you’re 648 miles from a potentially nuclear wielding country that has completely lost all their marbles…but you have to remember…the United States has a HUGE military presence in Japan as is. Also, the buildup of a military will instigate the bad blood remaining between Japan and all the other Asian countries. Many have still not forgotten the atrocities carried out by the militaristic Japanese Empire towards the beginning of the 20th century. It’s a sticky situation and all we can do is sit back and watch to see what happens next.
With the political rise and popularity of Abe, he was then elected the president of the ruling Democratic Party followed by his first Prime Minister election only 6 days later. You would imagine that this guy would be on cloud 9 with his career. But things took a turn for the worst. Abe experienced tragedy in his cabinet when his Agriculture Minister committed suicide. That was the beginning of the end of his first term as approval ratings shot downward below 30%. Abe went through another round of TWO Agriculture Ministers, both of which resigned due to scandals. Abe followed suit later in September of 2007 with his resignation which he attributed towards “chronic bowel ailment”.
You would think that this is the end for our Japanese hero, but no my friends. Just when you thought Abe was out for the count, December 26, 2012 rolls around and Abe is up for another shot at the Prime Minister position. Abe hit the ground running and started to bring the country back together. In the crisis of the Japanese economy, Abe began increasing government spending. Interests rates were targeted to be established around 2% in conjunction with increased defense spending through a 5 year expansion program and an increase in sales tax. The results of this policy, now deemed “Abenomics” has proven to be successful in its first year of execution. This can be seen through the rise of various Japanese stocks, a 3.1% increase in retail sales, and a 3.7% increase in household spending.
As you can speculate for foreign policy, Abe is not one to mess with. He’s already rocking a 1-0 track record with North Korea and he will put you in your place if you try to cross him. Abe has two main influencers for building relations with his Asian neighbors. One is that better relations and trade will have a positive effect on the Japanese economy and the other is a unified effort to put North Korea in their place. In general, relations between all countries have improved with the exception of China. It is a sticky situation with the Chinese because there is ongoing conflicts over FISH! There’s a collection of islands known as the Senkaku Islands that China and Japan have continued to dispute over territorially. Nonetheless, 2014 saw an agreement between the two states regarding the issue, but there is still a bad taste in the states’ mouths from the incident. It also hasn’t helped that Abe has visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine as Prime Minister. Other states, especially China, have interpreted this as a glorification of Japan’s militaristic past and atrocities committed on their Japanese neighbors.
So what we have seen is that Shinzō Abe is BACK in the office of Prime Minister to tackle some of the biggest challenges Japan is seeing. From Abenomics to improving Asian relations, we can definitely say that Abe is going to play a major role in the shift from western to eastern world dominance in the upcoming years. With the current success of his second term as Prime Minister, we can see that the story of Abe is still being written. Keep an eye out for this key player on the far eastern stage as he continues to fight the good fight while maintaining Japan’s strong relationship with the United States. And for that, we would like to sayどうもありがとう, Dōmo arigatō Mr. Abe!