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Shinzō Abe

Shinzo Abe

Shinzō Abe 39%

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Koji Sasahara/Associated Press

 

Shinzo Abe was the first Japanese Prime Minister born after World War II, and he immediately embarked on an ambitious effort to shore up the nation's military, its independence and its national pride.

 

In the process, he inflamed opponents who considered him a dangerous ideologue ready to jettison the postwar values that had brought stability, peace and wealth to Japan. He eventually resigned on Sept. 12, 2007, just shy of his 53d birthday and after having served as prime minister for just under a year, because of scandals, incompetence and gaffes.

 

The son of a foreign minister, Mr. Abe overcame political inexperience and rose quickly to popularity by championing the cause of a dozen Japanese abducted by North Korea in the 1970's -- and fanning, critics said, nationalist anger. In Japan and in the rest of Asia, Mr. Abe was regarded as even more hawkish and conservative than his predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi.

As a lawmaker, he had long led efforts to revise school textbooks and present what critics said was a whitewashed version of Japan's wartime history.

 

In the spring of 2007, Mr. Abe said there was no evidence that the Japanese military had forced women into sex slavery during World War II, causing a furor in the United States, as well as in Asian and European countries. The comments built support for the eventual passage by the United States House of Representatives of a non-binding resolution calling on Japan to clearly acknowledge and apologize for its sex slavery past.

 

He spoke of revising Japan's United States-imposed Constitution, which forbids Japan from having a full-fledged military, passing legislation to allow Japanese troops to be deployed overseas and making it possible for Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense with the United States.

 

He also wanted to revise the other legal document of the postwar American occupation, the Fundamental Law of Education, and emphasize mor. l values, patriotism and tradition in schools.

 

 

Jon Elsen, Sept. 12, 2007

Source: Times Topics

06.10.2010


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