Who is Shinzo Abe?
Shinzo Abe was born in September 1954. At a young age, he had made headlines and broke records in Japanese history. He is known to be the third longest serving Prime Minister of Japan (post-war). He is also known to be the youngest Prime Minister and the first Prime Minister to be born after the Second World War.
This is quite expected because he came from a very high-profile political background - he had in his bloodline very powerful men. He is the son of the former foreign minister Shintaro Abe and he is the maternal grandson of former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi. Even his paternal grandfather was also a politician. It is without a doubt that Mr. Shinzo Abe had a bright, political future ahead of him.
Beginnings in Politics
He gained a Bachelor’s degree in Seikei University and decided to pursue his studies in the United States at the University of Southern California. He entered his first government position in 1982 where he worked various positions and offices before becoming an executive assistant to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. It was in 1993 when he won his first seat in parliament. However, it took longer for him to be appointed to the cabinet in 2005. A year later, he was elected as the Prime Minister of Japan.
Prime Minister Abe of Japan: His terms
His First Term (2006 to 2007)
It was in September of 2006 when 52-year-old Shinzo Abe was elected to the position of the Prime Minister of Japan. In history, this makes him the youngest Prime Minister Japan has ever seen. In the short time, he was in office, he had done serious reforms in the economy, defense, national security, and education.
One of his main concerns at this time was the economy. He has worked aggressively towards the balancing of Japanese budget which was starting to experience some serious tightening and crisis at the time. His Ministers had advised that the best way to survive this economic plummet is through the increase of consumption tax. However, he had decided that it would be best to minimize the suffering of the citizens and instead resorted to spending cuts.
A year into his position, his administration started to experience some serious distress. There are widespread political funding scandals from some of his cabinet members, there is increasing tension due to the active presence of Japan during the war in the Middle East. On top of that, he had started to suffer poorness of health. After only one year, Shinzo Abe announced his resignation.
His Second Term (2012 to 2014)
Prime Minister Abe’s second term was much better than his first. It was in December 2012 when he was re-elected as Prime Minister. This time, the Prime Minister seemed sturdier than the first time he sat in the office. He had better policies, impressive growth strategies, and a bold encouragement on private investment. He was, a better and more mature Shinzo Abe.
The first thing that he was made famous by in this term of his would be his ‘crisis-busting cabinet’ comprised of many of the most capable and powerful ministers in modern Japanese governance. Just like in his first term, his primary goal was to develop the economy of the country. Everyone had seen the slow fall back to Japan and how the country had slowed down its economic development through the years. He had declared that his new policies shall bring ‘Japan Back’ on its feet, to lead the economies of many of the developed countries in the world.
His monetary policy focused on strengthening the Japanese Yen against the US dollar and also improving the position of Nikkei 225 in the global stock market. And in less than six months into his term, Abe and his ministers had been successful in meeting this goal.
His fiscal policies are also quite bold. He had finally proceeded with the increase in consumption tax from 5% to 8% - a move he was too reluctant to take the first time around. This had proved to be of great help to the local economy, increasing national budget for public works, defense, national security, and manpower. They are also successful in maximizing local manpower and decreasing foreign aid.
Because of all this risky and bold moves, the economy of Japan grew by 2% on his first year. To improve on this, he had announced entering negotiations with foreign investors. He had strengthened trade deals with Europe and had done this by reducing corporation tax.
His Third Term (2014 to Present)
His impressive second term had won him the position, yet again, of Prime Minister in the 2014 national elections. He had won the support of the Upper House. He was again sworn to his position in December of 2014. To this day, Shinzo Abe remains the Prime Minister of Japan. He knew that he had a powerful cabinet behind him, which is why he had made minimal changes to the appointments.
He had continued his move on strengthening monetary and fiscal policies of the country. He had also improved on the foreign policies as well. He had entered a deal with India in 2015 where the country agreed to purchase the Shinkansen Technolgy and take it home to India. He had also strengthened ties with South Korea, Taiwan, and China where he had entered a trilateral cooperation agreement to check on North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons program.
Shinzo Abe in Japan’s Elections: Popularity
His sudden resignation in 2007
The first year of Shinzo Abe’s first term had a terrible start. It started when a few months into his term, a minister had allegedly committed corruption and political funding. Since the Japanese society is strongly based on respect and honor, the two allegations are among the most scandalous than any other Japanese politician can ever face.
His first Agricultural minister committed suicide due to such allegations. The cabinet member that replaced him had to resign due to the same accusations. The next agricultural minister resigned as well due to other issues in the ministry. Resignations from his ministers had pushed him to reshuffle his cabinet, proving another perilous task.
Later that year, the democratic opposition had started to clash with his proposed reforms especially on providing Japanese support to the war in the Middle East. From then on, the trust of the public with the young minister had started to decline. It would seem that he had fallen short of expectations and was left overshadowed by his famous predecessor.
Seeing that there is no way forward and it would seem that the odds are against him, he had started to fall ill. On an unscheduled press conference, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had announced his resignation. It wouldn’t be until 2012, five years later, that he would take the risk in becoming the Japanese Prime Minister once again.
What did Minister Abe change in Japan’s Constitution?
One of the major platforms of Shinzo Abe during his second term was his bold economic policies. These are aimed to address current financial problems in Japan. Among its main goal is to, once again, launch Japan as a superpower economy, leading not only nations in Asia but also nations from all over the world.
His economic reforms have been teasingly called Abenomics and are known to be based on what he calls as ‘three arrows’. The first arrow is the monetary policies, the second arrow is the fiscal policies, and the third arrow is the strategic growth plan. This has improved the standing of Nikkei in the global stock market, established a strengthening position of the yen against the US dollar and has ensured the growth of the Japanese economy no less than 2%.
On top of that, these policies had helped the government to cut their spending leading to households reducing the expenditure as well. This was not always a good thing. The Abenomics relied on the increase in consumption tax to increase the government budget. However, hiking up the consumption tax had forced households to put a hold on spending. In fact, in the last year of his second term, it was recorded that household spending fell a total of 5.9 percent. Any further than this will cause a self-induced recession in the Japanese economy.
One of the many mistakes that Mr. Abe had committed during his first term would be his conservative stance on changing the policies on a succession of Japanese royalty. He had, controversially, abandoned a proposition to allow women to rule the Japanese throne.
Because of this, he had changed his stance the second time he sat as head of parliament. It was in 2013 when he had expanded budget on childcare to encourage more women to join the workforce. This is after projections of Japanese population showed an alarming decrease in the workforce in the coming years. He shed light on the strengthening of women leadership positions and had even set a target for 2020. He indicated that 30% of leadership positions must be held by women. He even aims to promote women for more minister positions.
Abe on Japan’s English Education System
It was also in October 2013 when the Japanese government started to strengthen their ties with foreign sovereigns. It could be seen that the Prime Minister was quite aggressive in creating deals and relations with many nations all over the world. Seeing this as an opportunity for growth and also seeing language-barriers as a primary hindrance in trade, the Liberal Democratic Party has pushed to reform the Educational system to accommodate in-depth English language study.
The Relationship of Prime Minister Abe of Japan with President Trump of the US
When Donald Trump won the US Presidency in January of this year, Abe was quick to congratulate although he had never met the new president before. It would seem, at this time, that there were aims of strengthening both economic and diplomatic ties between the two powerful countries.
It was July of this year when Abe had said in an interview that he and President Trump had agreed to cooperate to take action on the threats given by North Korea. However, the two are yet to meet in person regarding the matter. Then, August of this year, news of PM Abe and President Trump broke that a 40-minute call regarding the North Korea Missile threat was held. There were no details provided on the specifics of the conversation, however. Earlier this month, a supposed meeting between the two men had been put on hold but both assured the public that they are in support of one another regarding missile test launches by North Korea.
Latest Shinzo Abe Japan News
Foreign Policies regarding North Korea
During one of his speeches April of this year in Tokyo, he had assured the public that the government is doing all in its power to remain diplomatic with North Korea so as to not threaten national security. However, they still plan to expand and strengthen their self-defense units to fight during times of conflict. It would seem that the Prime Minister is very public with the diplomatic relationship between Japan and the US.
Interestingly enough, Prime Minister Abe and President Putin of Russia also agreed that actions of North Korea are threatening the peace in the region. It is said that the two are to set talks to ease tensions with North Korea.
Foreign Policies with China, South Korea, and Taiwan
At the beginning of his term, Abe was quick to recognize the need for improving ties with China and South Korea. More than 70 years after the Second World War, it might be high time to finally heal the wounds and start anew. Abe had been known to attend a summit with China, South Korea, and Taiwan in 2015.
He believed that this was for the strengthening of economic and security ties in Southeast Asia. This is also in relation to the growing need to combat against continuous nuclear threats from North Korea. Abe had sought the support of many countries in Asia as a campaign against the nuclear activities of North Korea.