Assassinated in the middle of a campaign rally: who was Shinzo Abe?

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Shinzo Abe during a diplomatic meeting

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, shot dead on Friday in Nara, in the west of the country, broke records for longevity at the head of the state whose political life he profoundly marked . He withstood many politico-financial scandals around him and those close to him.

Nearly two years after leaving office for health reasons, Abe, 67, succumbed to his injuries in hospital just hours after being attacked by gunfire during a ;an electoral rally.

Considered a pragmatic nationalist, Shinzo Abe was 52 years old when he first became head of government in 2006, the youngest in the country. #x27;after the war in his country.

It was especially during his second stint in power, between 2012 and 2020, that he made an impression.

He made a name for himself at the abroad with its economic policy dubbed Abenomics, launched at the end of 2012, combining monetary easing, massive budgetary stimulus and structural reforms.

He attributes certain successes to it, such as the notable rise in the rate of #x27;activity of women and the elderly, as well as greater use of immigration to counter the labor shortage.

In the absence of sufficient structural reforms, however, Abenomics has produced only partial successes.

In the summer of 2020, then having become unpopular for his management of the pandemic deemed clumsy by public opinion, he admitted that he suffered from chronic inflammatory bowel disease , ulcerative colitis, and resigned soon after. This illness was already one of the reasons for the abrupt end of his first stint in power in 2007.

Shinzo Abe during his most recent term

The ultimate ambition of this heir to a large family of conservative politicians was to revise the pacifist Japanese Constitution of 1947, written by the American occupiers and never amended since.

Having built part of his reputation on his firmness vis-à-vis North Korea, Shinzo Abe also advocated a Japan uninhibited from its past: in particular, he refused to bear the burden of repentance for the abuses of the Japanese military in China and the Korean peninsula in the first half of the 20th century.

Since his visit at the end of 2013 to the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo had outraged Beijing, Seoul and Washington, the former prime minister then refrained from going to this high place of Japanese nationalism.

Relations between Tokyo and Seoul have deteriorated against the backdrop of their historical disputes, while those with Beijing, which had warmed up a bit in the meantime, remain tortuous.

With Japan's great ally, the United States, Abe has always been able to adapt. He also managed to establish close ties with former US President Donald Trump, with whom he shared a passion for golf.

Shinzo Abe also worked not to offend Russian President Vladimir Putin. His hope of settling the dispute over the Southern Kuril Islands, annexed by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II and never returned to Japan, however, proved futile.

He also tried to strengthen Japan's presence on the international scene, notably by taking on the role of mediator between Iran and the United States, promoting multilateralism and multiplying free trade agreements.

US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a round of golf near Tokyo.

To stay in power, Abe largely took advantage of the absence of a serious rival within his political formation, the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD, nationalist right) and the weakness of the government. opposition, which has still not recovered from its disastrous passage to power between 2009 and 2012.

Certain laws passed by the former prime minister, in particular on the reinforcement the protection of state secrets, the expansion of the missions of the Japan Self-Defense Forces and the hardening of the fight against terrorism, have caused controversy in Japan, going so far as to lead to large demonstrations , usually rare in the country.

He had also long clung to hopes of keeping the Tokyo Olympics in the running. summer of 2020, just a few months after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and which was to be the high point of his last term.

The Tokyo Games finally took place a year later, behind closed doors.

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