Just four days before resigning from the post of Prime Minister, SHINZO ABE had made a record of the longest serving PM in the history of the island country since 1885. The term of the Japan’s prime minister is considered as one of the most remarkable in terms of political accomplishments – from postwar pacifism to a proactive defense and assertive foreign policy. And even more than that, who managed to maintain good relations with US President Trump.
The resignation of Abe could be a serious blow to US interest in Asia, who was trying continously to check Chinese aggression and contain North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. The unstable political arena of Japan had produced seven prime ministers in a shoft time of seven years before Mr Abe took over and this is for sure that who over succeeds him will prove to be weaker than the longest serving PM in the history of the island nation. Although it is clear that the successor will be Abe’s man, there is no guarantee that he will be as firm as Abe on North Korea and will stand up with China with the firmness that Abe showed in his term.
Abe, who rose to power in the changing postwar world order gave the motto of a “strong, flourishing Japan” with an aim to increase dominance of Japan on global stage. He carried this out by adopting a muscular defense posture and allowed the country’s military forces to operate outside national borders, acquired the largest number of F-35 fighter planes and is currently in discussion on purchase of missiles to be used for preemptive strikes.
On the other hand he altered the constitution’s pacifist clauses in order to get the islands once seized by Soviet Union in World War II and led the Japanese citizens kidnapped decades ago by North Korea, which he couldn’t accomplish – and for which he apologised in his resignation speech.
He was a pragmatic reformer who strengthened Japan’s economy and its ties with the US, ensuring that it would never become a “tier-two nation” as he once said.
His financial policy — based on monetary easing, fiscal stimulus and reform, and dubbed Abenomics — led to a devaluation of the Japanese yen through securities purchases by the Bank of Japan. Corporate earnings quickly skyrocketed and Japan Inc., went on an international buying spree, scooping up firms around the world.
Abe pushed companies to hike wages and his government raised the federal minimum wage each year he was in office. He also got rid of kindergarten fees.
The challenge of tackling those stubborn problems will now fall to future prime ministers — who, at least in the short term, are unlikely to be Mr. Abe’s political equals.
His successor will inherit the strongest Japan the world has seen since 1945. Now, the LDP will decide who will fill Abe’s shoes. So far, there are no clear favorites.