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Japanese Prime Minister Killed

On July 8th, 2022, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was assassinated by Tetsuya Yamagami, a recognized former member of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force, which is an organization equivalent to that of the U.S. navy. Tetsuya Yamagami assassinated the prime minister during his speech advocating on behalf of Kei Sato, a candidate running for reelection in his former party, the Liberal Democratic Party, as the upper house elections within the country were to occur later in the week. The motive for the assault was because the shooter did not agree with a particular organization that he believed the Japanese prime minister was connected to. 

Shinzo Abe served as the prime minister of Japan during 2006 and from 2012 to 2020 in which he advocated upon Japan serving as a more assertive presence within the international community but at the expense of historical accountability. During 2015, Shinzo Abe sought to expand Japan’s discretionary ability to exercise their military beyond self defense and the parameters listed in Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution. 

Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized." (Article 9, Japan’s Constitution)

Although Japan does not possess the right to wage war, except in self-defense, the state has conducted “refueling missions, humanitarian missions, alongside the United States in particular, but also with the United Nations peacekeeping force” (Chotiner, 2022). As Article 9 has consistently become weaker over the last few years, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sought to expand the military budget and normalize Japan acting in a manner of collective self defense. 

Shinzo Abe also attempted to strengthen the pension and insurance systems, as well as the general economy through Abenomics. Abenomics focused primarily on “monetary easing, fiscal stimulus, and structural reforms” (Tan and Murphy, 2022) but more specifically through raising the inflation rate, depreciating the yen to the U.S. dollar and foreign currency, increasing the money supply, and increasing government spending for public projects. Although the changes in legislation did provide growth within the economy for over a year, an increase in sales tax would later cause a recession. 

Despite, the prime minister’s attempt to strengthen the stature of Japan in international relations, he did so at the cost of continuously denying many of Japan’s involvement in previous atrocities. This includes denying and/or rewriting the events of the Nanjing Massacre, as well as rejecting the involvement Japan had with the “comfort women” system that occurred during WW2. It is speculated that the Prime Minister’s efforts to extort much of Japan’s past crimes are a product of separating his political career and ideology from that of his father who was previously Minister of Foreign Affairs and his grandfather who served in the same position but encouraged or directed inhumane acts. 

President Biden stated that he was “stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened by the assassination.” Similarly, states such as Taiwan also expressed an empathetic sorrow for the loss of Japan’s prime minister as the Taiwanese leader, Tsai Ing-wen referred to Abe as a “good friend” and a “staunch ally.” The death of Shinzo Abe removes an individual who attempted to create a more unified Indo-Pacific region. He has historically been vocal against Beijing’s aggressive use of military and economic coercion and strived to strengthen the relationships between the U.S., India, Australia, and Japan. Despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to dissociate or frame Japan’s past atrocities in a more positive light, he did provide momentum for Japan’s inclusiveness within global affairs and a more united Indo-Pacific region.

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