Japanese lawmaker who died at 67

Japanese lawmaker who died at 67

TOKYO Kyodo Japanese lawmaker Shinzo Abe, who was fatally shot Friday, was the country's longest-serving prime minister and known for his hawkish stance and economic policies dubbed Abenomics. After stepping down as prime minister in 2020, the 67-year-old became an influential politician, having led the largest faction in the conservative ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Abe's grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi and great-uncle Eisaku Sato, had served as prime ministers, as well as by his grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi and his great-uncle, Eisaku Sato. Abe served as secretary for his father, former Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe, before being elected to the House of Representatives in 1993 from a constituency in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

He became the youngest prime minister in post-war Japan in September 2006, at age 52, although he resigned in 2007 due to poor health after the party's major defeat in the House of Councillors election.

After a brief stint, he brought the LDP to a landslide victory in the lower house election in December 2012 as the party leader and returned to power. After nearly eight years, he stepped down due to a chronic intestinal disease flare-up and was replaced by his chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga.

During his last tenure he pursued economic policies marked by massive monetary easing, fiscal stimulator and structural reforms to beat deflation and turn around a stagnant economy.

He urged investors to buy my Abenomics on Wall Street in 2013 but by the time he left the post, the economy was hit by the novel coronaviruses and had more debt than when he returned to power.

Domestically, he had pursued hawkish policies, including calling for reform of Japan's U.S. pacifist constitution to explicitly reference the status of the country's Self-Defense Forces to end arguments that they are unconstitutional.

In 2014 he went ahead with a reinterpretation of the Constitution to allow the use of collective self-defense defending allies even without an attack on Japan itself. He also increased the role of the Self-Defense Forces under new security legislation in 2016, marking a major turnaround in Japan's postwar security policy.

Abe was actively involved in summit diplomacy while he was attempting to strengthen ties with the United States and promote the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

He accompanied President Barack Obama to the site of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 2016 and built close ties with Obama's successor, Donald Trump.

He took a conciliatory approach toward Russia, while keeping a hardline position against North Korea. In 2018, Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to speed up the talks to conclude a peace treaty between the two countries, hampered by a long-standing territorial dispute.

In 2013 Abe visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which enshrines war criminals along with war dead. The shrine is considered by the neighboring Asian countries as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

Abe also announced Japan's first state of emergency over the COVID 19 pandemic, but came under fire for the slow distribution of small washable cloth face masks, which were sarcastically referred to as Abenomask, a pun on Abenomics, among other missteps.

He was also enraged by a series of political scandals, including the heavily discounted sale of state-owned land to a private school operator with ties to Abe's wife Akie and the decision to approve the construction of a veterinary school under the Kake Educational Institution, run by a friend.

In the year 2019 a high-profile political scandal linked to Abe emerged, involving allegations that his camp illegally paid for dinner receptions held for supporters.