The book offers a study of a fascinating political personality, that of Japanese prime minister Abe Shinzō (2012-2020). Abe's political career was boosted by his predecessor Koizumi Jun.ichirō and he seemed extremely promising at 51 when he rose to become the youngest Cabinet Secretariat chief, however once in power in 2007 he disappointed by resigning after only one year. Yet, he rose again in 2012 to become the longest-serving prime minister of Japan's history since the end of the Meiji Era (1868-1912), when Japan went through a radical process of modernization and westernization, becoming a major military and imperialist power in the process.
The book seeks to answer three questions. How could Abe Shinzō remain in power for nearly a decade in a country where prime ministers usually have much shorter terms, in some cases of only one year? He remained in power in spite of the fact that he sought to conduct massive reforms. What was the policy mix devised to keep voters happy, while promoting structural reforms and growth? He was in power for almost ten years. What is his legacy: what remains of his tenure as chief executive?
James D.J. Brown is associate professor of Political Science at Temple University, Japan Campus.
Guibourg Delamotte is Senior Lecturer of Political science at the Japanese studies department of the French Institute of Oriental Studies (Inalco).
Robert Dujarric is co-director of the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University, Japan Campus.
Introduction: Eight Years in Power: Assessing Prime Minister Abe’s Legacy by James Brown, Guibourg Delamotte, and Robert Dujarric
Chapter 1: Transformation of Domestic Politics: Abe’s Durable Legacy? By Nonaka Naoto
Chapter 2: Abe Shinzō's Economic Legacy by R. Taggart Murphy
Chapter 3: Pandemic Downsizes Prime Minister Abe Shinzō by Jeff Kingston
Chapter 4: Gender Policies and Conservative Values by Murakami Hiromi
Chapter 5: Prime Minister Abe’s Security Policy: a Broader Spectrum by Guibourg Delamotte
Chapter 6: Japanese Military Diplomacy: Abe’s Security Legacy? By Alessio Patalano
Chapter 7: Japan-US Relations by Minohara Toshihiro
Chapter 8: Japan’s Diplomacy toward China under the Abe Shinzō Administration by Soeya Yoshihide
Chapter 9: Recriminations & Deepened Distrust: Assessing PM Abe’s Legacy of Mismanaging Japan-ROK Relations by Laney Bahan and David Satter White
Chapter 10: Abe Shinzō and the Securitization of Japan-North Korea Relations by Benoît Hardy-Chartrand
Chapter 11: Testing a Theory to Destruction: Abe’s Legacy and Relations with Russia by James Brown
Chapter 12: Japan’s Foreign Policy towards the Middle East and Africa under Abe by Kakizaki Masaki
Chapter 13: Japan’s Global Image by Nancy Snow
Chapter 14: Japan and the World under Abe Shinzō's Premiership: Trying to Become a Rules-Maker by Robert Dujarric
This multi-authored book focuses upon the period of Japanese politics in which Abe Shinzō was prime minister (2012-2020). By contrast with previous decades the 2010s were a period of relative political stability. Much of this stability may be explained by the transformation of Japanese politics from a system of pluralistic factional politics within the ‘ruling’ Liberal Democratic Party, to a system of centralized power based on the Kantei (prime minister’s office). This radical change, ably explained in Chapter 1, forms the essential political background for subsequent chapters, on Abe’s economic legacy, handling of the pandemic, gender policies, transformation of security policy, Japanese relations with the United States, China, North and South Korea, Russia, the Middle East and Africa. The book concludes with chapters assessing the impact of the Abe prime ministership on Japanese foreign policy in general and Japan’s image in the outside world.
The Abe period was obviously a crucial one for Japan, but also deeply controversial. This book provides the reader with a clear understanding of the complexities involved.
The book updates our knowledge of developments in Japanese politics across the last decade. It will become essential reading for all those teaching and learning about contemporary Japan as well as those outside academic settings who need to understand what is happening within Japanese politics.
These chapters are consistently well-written, with each providing a brief survey of the relevant contextual information before focusing on what Abe did or did not achieve. This set of essays explains what he accomplished while in power and tries to assess what his legacy may be.
Abe Shinzō has been hyped as a transformative figure in japan and on the world stage during his long tenure as prime minister. This edited volume thoroughly and comprehensively evaluates this reputation. It is oriented around three simple questions. How was Abe Shinzō able to remain in power for the best part of a decade; what changes did Abe make and how beneficial were they for Japan; finally, what is his political legacy now that he has left office?
Fourteen substantive chapters cover a wide range of domestic issues, as well as security and foreign policy, concluding with pieces on Abe’s contributions to Japan’s overseas image and global importance. Despite having successfully used prior political reforms to centralize power and stay in power, sometimes using questionable methods, this volume offers a realistic, critical, and balanced evaluation of Abe’s contributions, importance and legacy both domestically and internationally. A major contribution to the literature on Japan’s politics, policymaking, and role in world affairs.