fredag 28. august 2020

Shinzo Abe: Revisionist nationalist or pragmatic realist?

Revisionist nationalist or pragmatic realist? Defining Shinzo Abe and his legacy following his resignation as Japan's longest serving post-war prime minister divides commentators both within Japan and internationally. To his critics, Mr Abe represents the attitudes of an older, conservative generation intent on downplaying Japan's wartime record, while pursuing a potentially troubling and overly assertive foreign policy.

To his supporters, the prime minister has boosted the country's global standing, realizing its national interests by harmonizing its legitimate ambitions with its clout as the world's third largest economy. In truth, both images of Mr Abe are accurate. As an instinctive conservative politician intent on restoring Japan's pride both at home and abroad, Mr Abe worked consistently during his eight years in office to bolster the country's national identity and historical traditions.

He reaffirmed the position of the emperor in Japan's civic life (ushering in the new "Reiwa" era and helping notably to manage the transition to a new emperor following the abdication of Emperor Akihito in April 2019); moved away from overly self-critical historical narratives in high-school textbooks; and sought (ultimately unsuccessfully) to revise the country's post-war constitution.