Thinking Citizen Blog — Shinzo Abe

Thinking Citizen Blog — Monday is Foreign Policy Day

Today’s Topic — Shinzo Abe — what should every thinking citizen know?

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving post-World War II Prime Minister, recently announced his retirement from office for health reasons. When I saw the headline, I asked myself: how much do I know about him? The answer: very little. I decided to do a little research. Today, a few notes. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

BACKGROUND — Two prominent political families

1. His father, Shintaro Abe, was foreign minister of Japan from 1982 to 1986.

2. His grandfather on his mother’s side, Nobusuke Kishi, was Prime Minister of Japan from 1957 to 1960.

3. Kishi had been imprisoned for three years after World War II for suspected war crimes committed as the economic czar of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo.

“ABENOMICS” — the “three arrows policy”

1. First arrow: monetary easing.

2. Second arrow: fiscal stimulus

3. Third arrow: structural reform (eg. lowers corporate tax rate, deregulation, expansion of child care to encourage women to enter the labor force.)


1. Time to stand up to China and North Korea.

2. Time for Japan to assume a greater share of the responsibility for its own defense.

3. Time to reinterpret Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution which outlawed war and according to which Japan has no army, navy, or air force. Japan’s “self-defense forces” are in theory merely extensions of the national police force.

NB: He has been strongly criticized for whitewashing Japan’s past and his popularity has suffered from several corruption scandals. Assessments of his legacy vary widely with The Economist concluding that he was a pragmatic and effective leader whose achievements are underestimated and Foreign Policy magazine denouncing him as an ultranationalist who trashed Japan’s relationship with South Korea.

Nobusuke Kishi

1955 System

Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution

Abe Shinzo’s legacy is more impressive than his muted exit suggests

Abe Ruined the Most Important Democratic Relationship in Asia



Please share the coolest or most important thing you learned in the last week, month, or year related to foreign policy. Or, even better, the coolest or most important thing you learned in our life related to foreign policy.

This is your chance to make someone else’s day. And to consolidate in your memory something important you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart. Continuity is the key to depth of thought. The prospect of imminent publication, like hanging and final exams, concentrates the mind. A useful life long habit.