The Shinzo Abe era of Japanese politics came to a sudden end in August with the surprise announcement that Japan’s longest-serving prime minister was stepping down to deal with serious (but not life-threatening) health issues. The race to succeed the leader of the world’s third-largest economy is already in full-swing.
Why It Matters:
It’s hard to call Abe a transformational leader—despite his best efforts, he failed to amend Japan’s constitution to strengthen its military (which it is technically prohibited from possessing under the constitution as it stands now). The territorial disputes that existed at the start of his premiership will outlast him. Japanese-South Korean relations remain deeply troubled. From Tokyo’s vantage point, China represents as great a threat as ever. And the status of the primary alliance that’s supposed to help Japan counterbalance Beijing’s growing dominance in Asia—with the United States—depends more on the mood of the current occupant of the White House than Abe would like, in spite of Abe’s best attempts to put it on more stable footing.
But just because Abe failed to be a transformative politician hasn’t made him a failed one. Under Abe’s watch, Japan’s economy continued to grow modestly, no small feat in the wake of the greatest financial crisis the world had seen in generations… well, until this one. His “Abenomics” helped pull the country out of a deflationary funk, even if the country’s public debt remains at an eye-popping 251.91% (2020 projections), the highest among the world’s advanced industrial economies. And meaningful progress has been made toward opening up Japan’s economy to foreign investment and bringing more women into the workforce, even if much more work is required on both these fronts. These may not seem like massive achievements, but against the backdrop of the geopolitical turmoil …read more
Source:: Time – World