Shinzo Abe

Abe, Shinzo (shēnˈzō äˈbā) [key], 1954–, Japanese politician. The son and grandson of politicians (his grandfather was Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi), he served as secretary to his father and succeeded to his father's seat in the Diet in 1993. Abe gained attention in 2002 for taking a strong stand against North Korea over its kidnapping of Japanese citizens, and in 2003 he became secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic party. Becoming chief cabinet secretary under Prime Minister Koizumi in 2005, Abe was regarded as Koizumi's likely successor, and succeeded him as party president and prime minister in 2006. A strong conservative and an apologist for Japan's role in World War II, Abe supported revising the constitutional limitations on Japan's military, increasing Japan's role in international affairs, taking a harder line in Japan's relations with North Korea, and continuing Koizumi's economic reforms. In office, he succeeded in repairing ties with China that had been damaged under his predecessor and secured passage of educational reforms and of an upgrading of the defense agency to ministry status, but a series of government scandals and the LDP's loss of control of the Diet's upper house (July, 2007) led to Abe's resignation in Sept., 2007. Yasuo Fukuda succeeded him. Five years later he was again elected leader of the LDP, and in Dec., 2012, led the party to a landslide victory and again became prime minister.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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