Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is dead after being shot twice with a homemade gun by a 41-year-old former Japanese military officer. Let’s take a look at how Japan is taking this shocking news.
Japan is in Shock.
Japan is totally numb right now, and Twitter users are expressing outrage against the use of violence in the arena of politics. Former Prime Minister Abe was giving a speech in Nara when two booms rang out (literal and figurative trigger warning), as the assailant took two shots at the politician from behind. The man was tackled and his homemade weapon confiscated, while Abe was rushed to a hospital. The motive was apparently because the suspect had a grudge with a “specific organization,” though the name of the organization in question hasn’t been released yet.
Is Political Assassination a Thing in Japan?
As you can probably imagine, a crime-free country with no guns like Japan isn’t used to this kind of tragedy. Not since the political chaos of the 1920s and 30s have Japanese leaders been publically killed, which partially explains the shock everyone in Japan is feeling right now.
Are there even guns in Japan? Famously the country has strong laws against handguns, and the only people armed in Japanese life are yakuza gangsters…though they’re smart to ensure that they only use them against other crime lords, never against average people. But rifles for hunting are surprisingly common in Japan, as I learned when I made friends with a man who ran a performance bicycle shop named Remington and learned that he had a large collection of rifles by that company.
What Did Shinzo Abe Do?
As I wrote in my long post written as the man left office, Shinzo Abe was an amazing individual who accomplished a lot.
- In a country where PMs generally don’t last longer than a year, he managed two long terms for a total of nearly eight years. Japan managed to have 17 leaders over the past 30 years, while the U.K. had only six.
- He was successful economically, finally bringing Japan out of the aftermath of its two “lost decades” and causing Tokyo land prices and inflation (thus, economic growth) to tick up for the first time in years. He failed to unlock Japan’s true potential engine for growth, its under-utilized female workers, however.
- He dressed up as Mario and won Japan the 2020 Olympics, fulfilling a destiny given by the Akira film long ago.
- Stuck in between a rock and a hard place, he competently managed Japan’s delicate relationship with both the United States and China, and he also greatly improved relationships with India and Taiwan.
- Though generally put in a box as a “right-winger,” Abe did things like raise taxes on high earners and sign an agreement with South Korea, issuing the long-demanded apology and financial restitution to wartime prostitutes, though the agreement got scuttled by South Korea a couple years later as part of the reaction against Park Geun-hye.
- He oversaw the end of the Heisei Era and the beginning of the current era of Reiwa. He signed off on the execution of members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult that had terrorized the country with sarin nerve gas attacks.
- Not everything went Abe’s way during his two terms. No headway on Japan’s three island disputes was made during his tenure, and he never got the one thing he wanted, to revise the Japanese Constitution to specify the role of the Japanese military, called the Self-Defence Forces, which are currently somewhat extra-legal as they’re not specifically mentioned in the Constitution.
Thanks for reading this post on the passing of Shinzo Abe. He’s watching down on all of us now, urging us to go procreate for the sake of Japan.
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