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He’s the most towering political figure in Japan over the past couple of decades. He wanted Japan to be respected on the global stage in the way that he felt was deserved. ... He also wanted Japan to not have to keep apologizing for World War II.

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Dave Leheny, a political scientist at Waseda University, commenting on former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who was killed on Friday.

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Abe - intelligent, elegant, cosmopolitan, well nuanced in international affairs - gave Japan a truly credible, geopolitical & cultural presence .

He did not use his privileged position to profit himself, but worked unreservedly for Japan to be economically strong, politically stable, peace loving nation with a distinct invaluable cultural heritage.

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-14 ( +6 / -20 )

He’s the most towering political figure in Japan over the past couple of decades.

Not sure whether the word "towering" maybe the most appropriate but politics in Japan as there are many other figures which are still being quoted and referred to (for good or wrong): Koizumi Koichiro or Tanaka Kakuei being 2 of them. But, yes, over the last decade without any doubt did J-politics center around him.

He wanted Japan to be respected on the global stage in the way that he felt was deserved. 

THAT is where things start to get very shaky pretty quickly.

Within Japan he is known as having been working with a sledge hammer on:

.the separation of powers (e.g. the circus around the favor he wanted to grant prosecutor Kurokawa's term)

.the independency of the BOJ which Abe considered to be a "subsidiary of the government (政府の子会社)"

.the freedom of the press with one of his ministers (Takaichi) threatening to revoke the license of media outlet for "not reporting accurately the news" (Japan fell from place 53 (in 2013) to 66 (in 2020) in Reporters without borders' freedom of press ranking)

.the civilian control over the JSDF (which got "lost" together with the daily reports of the JSDF deployment in South Sudan, making it look like the civilian government was blind as to what their troops were doing or what was done to them)

.parliamentary democracy with Abe bulldozing controversial laws with minimal discussions or review

And let's not forget:

.a never ending conveyor-belt of scandals with literally dozens of ministers having to fall in their swords for Abe to survive.

.a vote-buying scandal sending a former minister of justice to jail.

not even mentioning the utter contempt for parliament where Abe broke the record of lying on record for a staggering 200 times making Boris Johnson look like a model of probity, or:

.his shady links with the criminal world both during the Sakura-no-kai event but also 2 decades ago when in 2000 did mobsters try to torch his house following (already back then) a deal on vote-buying

.the abject failure that was Abenomics

.the shock around the world, when after Fukushima he announced to go for nuclear power again once back in power

Abe had been the poster-boy for most, if not all the ills currently rotting J-politics and letting slide Japan to what looks increasingly like a banana-republic with a staggering level of corruption, collusion and conflicts of interest at the highest level, no vision (or interest for that matters) for economy, society and industry and a double-standard rule of law (one for "them", one for "all of us"), all being courtesy of an apathic pool of voters who gave up on the situation as "FUBAR".

The J-population on their side and beyond the shock caused by an act of violence of against a public / political figure, has already moved on from Abe years ago as their main concern is to try to make ends meet and survive which has actually become even harder under his "leadership".

5 ( +20 / -15 )

He’s the most towering political figure in Japan over the past couple of decades.

If you ignore Koizumi.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

On a human level the death of Abe is truly tragic.

Equally tragic is the mythologizing that comes with martyrdom of a man who is praised as 'looking to the future'-(while simultaneously trying to rewrite the past). To a certain extent part of Abe's ambition was expressed in the form of grievance politics as to how Japan was perceived in the post-world war order. And while Abe's attempt to alter the Constitution does not seem unreasonable in the face of current geopolitics, when combined with historical revisionism and a sense of somehow being unjustly humiliated, it provides an almost identical recipe for the kinds of justifications used by both Russia and China towards Ukraine and Taiwan respectively.

Should Japan alter article 9 of the Constitution given the current security climate in the region? Probably.

Should this be done in the spirit of 'rekindling the former greatness' of Japan as Abe seemed to espouse? Probably not. If Japan wants to be able to effectively meet the challenges that both Russia and China present, it should not emulate their sense of grievance politics and self-aggrandizement to do so. If Abe had been a little more concerned about the future of Japan, than he was about rehabilitating its past, then he may have been a truly great leader.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

@blue,

Bravo,my friend.

You have nailed it.

Sad to see him die,but you have nailed it.

Did you mention the secrecy law that he rammed through the diet as well?

Spoke to Japanese friend and he was very sad,but only because Abe will never have to take responsibility now for all of the scandals he was the centre of.

Also he has made the rich much richer and the poor much poorer.

6 ( +15 / -9 )

@Spitfire

Yesterday evening I went on stray cat patrol with the team of volunteers. As we're talking volunteers with time on their hands, is the group made up of mostly 2 demographics:

.housewives

.elderly (retired) people

Yesterday evening did the housewives want my opinion on whether Japan was "becoming gun-crazy like the US"? I managed to reassure them that: no, this is not the case. It was an isolated incident with a make-shift firearm.

Later during our tour, did the two elderly males each one, separately and at different time, take me a little away from the group to discreetly ask me: "blue-san, do you think that Abe-san got killed because of his connections to the underworld (暴力団 boryokudan)?".

The first time, I was surprised by the question and said: "Well, err, I don't know. I don't think so, but that will be up to the investigation to clarify". When less than half an hour after the first guy, did the second guy ask me exactly the same question, was it hard not to laugh at the situation before giving exactly the same answer as I did to the other guy.

I call these people my friends and will consider this my very own private "poll" about the whole matter and how the man / woman in the street feels about this crime. It speaks volumes, I believe.

5 ( +13 / -8 )

@blue,

Very insightful.

I imagine so many Japanese are confused about what to think right now.

Especially given their reluctance to actually show their true feelings.

The friend I mentioned in my post is an old guy too.

He really loves Japan in a patriotic way not a nationalistic way.

By the way,absolute kudos to you for your 'stray cat patrol.'

Your comment that I first replied to was awesome.

Many people forget how hawkish he was and what a silver-spooned life he led.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Who can forget the 'Southern All Stars' concert where the singer made a playful jibe at Abe in the audience. Abe was 'ashen and visibly shaken'? The impertinent singer was later forced to apologize after having offended the delicate sensibilities of 'the towering political figure'.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

@Spitfire

I have only been here since 2004. I knew that Japan was not stranger to scandals (ahem) before coming here. After 2004, I had seen my share until Abe came back in 2012.

Still, I had the impression that the size, numbers and speed at which scandals started to occur was just getting mind-boggling...The worse being that they just were...well, "stupid" and the attempts to cover them up were even more "incompetent"...

When reading the news and the comments on Yahoo News, the result was that public trust in governmental institutions just fell off a cliff...Looking at the news, it sounded like everybody who had some kind of an "official" business at some administration, went there with a recorder to tape the discussion and then (if things went south) leaked it to the media.

I kinda felt back then, that should I need to go to the city office (市役所) or ward office (区役所) or Tax-office or whatsit for some serious business of sorts, I too, would take a recorder with me. You know, "just in case"...

That too, is a part of the not-so-bright legacy of the Abe decade...

It will take a lot of time to fix what got broken over these 10 years. A lot of time. And time is exactly what Japan does not have...

This is exactly what makes this additional lost decade even more infuriating.

-5 ( +10 / -15 )

Blue, I always look forward to your amazing posts!

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Abe - intelligent, elegant, cosmopolitan, well nuanced in international affairs - gave Japan a truly credible, geopolitical & cultural presence .

He did not use his privileged position to profit himself, but worked unreservedly for Japan to be economically strong, politically stable, peace loving nation with a distinct invaluable cultural heritage.

Not sure what planet you are living on, but it doesn't correspond to reality.

Yes, Abe went to an elite school - based totally on his family's position. He wasn't what one would call "sharp."

Between his "Beautiful Country" rhetoric that he never bothered to explain (because he couldn't in a way that would not scream "NATIONALISM!") and his Diet performances in which he spouted the same euphamisms and brief talking points over and over, nobody in their right mind would confuse him with "Intelligent."

And never used his position to benefit himself because he was already quiet wealthy. No, Shinzo used his power to benefit yaks, nationalists and other scummy figures. His adminstration was synonomous with corruption.

He did have some good aspects. He basically drug Japan into the modern regional security reality it lives in and not the la-la land of "If we are nice and invest, nobody will try to harm us."

And he sure didn't deserve to die on the street at the hands of a nutter.

But the modern iteration of Churchill he most definately was not.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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