Name? Shinzo Abe
Westphalian identity? Japanese
Why is he in the news? This morning, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated while speaking at a campaign rally. As Japan’s longest-serving leader, Abe’s death will undoubtedly shock both the nation and the world as we all reflect on his legacy.
Why do we care? Abe held immense influence over the political establishment in Japan, not only as prime minister, but also now as he has continued to advise and campaign for candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections. From a hawkish foreign policy, especially with regard to China and North Korea, to his signature economics strategy: “Abenomics,” Abe will unquestionably continue to influence Japanese policy long after his death.
Why should you care? As academic Rory Medcalf stated, “History will record Shinzo Abe as one of the most important international figures in shaping the geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific.” Abe played a key role in reviving the QUAD group as well as maintaining momentum for the CPTPP after the U.S. left. You should care 8/10 about Abe’s impact on these initiatives that have sought to blunt China’s might, military and economic, in the Indo-Pacific.
Who else cares? US President Joe Biden has expressed his outrage and sympathy, describing Abe’s death as a “tragedy for Japan and for all who knew him.” One of Abe’s lasting legacies has been a strengthened security alliance with the U.S. as well as a bolstering of Japan’s defence role in the Pacific. With Abe gone, pressure may fluctuate for both Biden and current Prime Minister Kishida to remain close on security issues.
Any further comments? It is notoriously difficult to own a gun in Japan as it requires no criminal background, a psychological evaluation, mandatory training and a background check in which even your neighbours are interviewed. As a result, much of the attention on today’s assassination has been on the weapon used by the assailant—likely a homemade gun.