|Prime Minister of Japan|
26 December 2012
|Preceded by||Yoshihiko Noda|
26 September 2006 – 26 September 2007
|Preceded by||Junichiro Koizumi|
|Succeeded by||Yasuo Fukuda|
|President of the Liberal Democratic Party|
26 September 2012
|Preceded by||Sadakazu Tanigaki|
20 September 2006 – 26 September 2007
|Preceded by||Junichiro Koizumi|
|Succeeded by||Yasuo Fukuda|
|Chief Cabinet Secretary|
31 October 2005 – 26 September 2006
|Prime Minister||Junichiro Koizumi|
|Preceded by||Hiroyuki Hosoda|
|Succeeded by||Yasuhisa Shiozaki|
21 September 1954 |
Nagato, Yamaguchi, Japan
|Political party||Liberal Democratic Party|
|Alma mater||Seikei University
University of Southern California
Shinzō Abe (安倍晋三 Abe Shinzō , [abe ɕinzoː] ( ); born 21 September 1954) is the Prime Minister of Japan and in office since December 2012. He previously served as Prime Minister from 2006 to 2007. Abe is the President of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and chairman of the Oyagaku propulsion parliamentary group.
Abe became the 90th Japanese Prime Minister when he was elected by a special session of the National Diet on 26 September 2006. He became Japan's youngest prime minister since World War II, and is the first to be born after the war. Abe served as prime minister for less than a year, resigning on 12 September 2007. He was replaced by Yasuo Fukuda, beginning a string of Prime Ministers, none of whom retained office for more than one year.
On 26 September 2012, Abe defeated former Minister of Defense Shigeru Ishiba in a run-off vote to win the LDP presidential election. Abe became the Prime Minister again on 26 December 2012, following the LDP's landslide victory in the 2012 general election. He is the first former Prime Minister to return to the office since Shigeru Yoshida in 1948.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Member of House of Representatives
- 3 First term as Prime Minister
- 4 Return as Prime Minister
- 5 Politics and philosophy
- 6 Honours
- 7 Cabinets
- 8 Family
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Abe was born in Nagato, Yamaguchi and soon moved to Tokyo. He attended Seikei Elementary School and Seikei High School. He studied political science at Seikei University, graduating in 1977. He later moved to the United States and studied public policy at the University of Southern California's School of Public Policy. In April 1979, Abe began working for Kobe Steel. He left the company in 1982 and pursued a number of governmental positions including executive assistant to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, private secretary to the chairperson of the LDP General Council, and private secretary to the LDP secretary-general.
Abe was born into a political family of significance. His grandfather, Kan Abe, and father, Shintaro Abe, were both politicians. Abe's mother, Yoko Kishi, is the daughter of Nobusuke Kishi, prime minister of Japan from 1957 to 1960. Kishi had been a member of the Tōjō Cabinet during the Second World War. Since GHQ's policy changed and became more anti-communist, Kishi was released from Sugamo Prison, and later established the Japan Democratic Party. In 1950 Shigeru Yoshida's Liberal Party and Kishi's Democratic Party merged as an anti-leftist coalition and became the Liberal Democratic Party of today.
Member of House of Representatives
Shinzō Abe was elected to the first district of Yamaguchi Prefecture in 1993 after his father's death in 1991, winning the most votes of the four Representatives elected in the SNTV multi-member district. In 1999, he became Director of the Social Affairs Division, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary in the Yoshirō Mori and Junichiro Koizumi Cabinets from 2000–2003, after which he was appointed Secretary General of the Liberal Democratic Party.
Abe is a member of the Mori Faction (formally, the Seiwa Seisaku Kenkyū-kai) of the Liberal Democratic Party. This faction is headed by former prime minister Yoshirō Mori. Junichiro Koizumi was a member of the Mori Faction prior to leaving it, as is the custom when accepting a high party post. From 1986 to 1991, Abe's father, Shintaro, headed the same faction. The Seiwa Seisaku Kenkyū-kai has 60 members in the House of Representatives and 26 in the House of Councillors.
In 2000 Abe's home and the office of his supporters in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi, were attacked with molotov cocktails on numerous occasions. The perpetrators were several yakuza members belonging to the Kudo-kai, a Kitakyushu-based designated boryokudan syndicate. The reason for the attacks was believed to be that Abe's local aide refused to give cash to a Shimonoseki real estate broker in return for supporting a Shimonoseki mayoral candidate in 1999.
Abe was chief negotiator for the Japanese government on behalf of the families of Japanese abductees taken to North Korea. As a part of the effort, he accompanied Koizumi to meet Kim Jong‑il in 2002. He gained national popularity when he demanded that Japanese abductees visiting Japan remain, in defiance of North Korea.
He was the leader of a project team within the LDP that did a survey on "excessive sexual education and gender-free education". Among the items to which this team raised objections were anatomical dolls and other curricular materials "not taking into consideration the age of children", school policies banning traditional boys' and girls' festivals, and mixed-gender physical education. The team sought to provide contrast to the Democratic Party of Japan, which it alleged supported such policies.
On 20 September 2006, Abe was elected as the president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. His chief competitors for the position were Sadakazu Tanigaki and Taro Aso. Yasuo Fukuda was a leading early contender but ultimately chose not to run. Former Prime Minister Yoshirō Mori, to whose faction both Abe and Fukuda belonged, stated that the faction strongly leant toward Abe.
First term as Prime Minister
|This section's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. (November 2012)|
Abe expressed a general commitment to the fiscal reforms instituted by his predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi. He has taken some steps toward balancing the Japanese budget, such as appointing a tax policy expert, Koji Omi, as Minister of Finance. Omi has previously supported increases in the national consumption tax, although Abe has distanced himself from this policy and seeks to achieve much of his budget balancing through spending cuts.
Since 1997, as the bureau chief of "Institute of Junior Assembly Members Who Think About The Outlook of Japan and History Education", Abe supported the controversial Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform and the New History Textbook. He denies the abduction of comfort women by Japanese troops, claims that a history textbook must contribute to the formation of national consciousness, and cites South Korean criticism of the New History Textbook as foreign interference in Japanese domestic affairs.
In March 2007, Abe along with right-wing politicians have proposed a bill to encourage nationalism and a "love for one's country and hometown" among the Japanese youth (Specific wording from the revised 'fundamental law of education - 教育基本法', which was revised to include 'love of country' despite much criticism).
Abe holds conservative views in the Japanese succession controversy, and has said he opposes amending Japanese law to permit female blood lines to succeed the imperial family. Succession of the imperial family by the female blood line should not be confused with ascension of a woman to the Chrysanthemum Throne as Empress.
In 2002 negotiations between Japan and North Korea, Prime Minister Koizumi and General Secretary Kim Jong-il agreed to give abductees permission to visit Japan. A few weeks into the visit, the Japanese government decided that the abductees would be restricted from returning to North Korea where their families live. Abe took credit for this policy decision in his best-selling book, Toward a Beautiful Nation (美しい国へ Utsukushii kuni e ). North Korea criticized this Japanese decision as a breach of a diplomatic promise, and the negotiations aborted.
On 7 July 2006, North Korea conducted missile tests over the Sea of Japan. Abe, as Chief Cabinet Secretary, cooperated with Foreign Minister Taro Aso to seek sanctions against North Korea in the United Nations Security Council.
China, South Korea, and Taiwan
Abe has publicly recognized the need for improved relations with the People's Republic of China and, along with Foreign Minister Taro Aso, sought an eventual summit meeting with former Chinese paramount leader Hu Jintao. Abe has also said that China–Japan relations should not continue to be based on emotions.
On 4 August 2006, the Japanese media reported that Shinzō Abe had visited the Yasukuni Shrine (a shrine that includes convicted Class A war criminals in its honored war dead) in April of that year. Abe claimed the visit was of a personal and non-official nature, as Former Prime Minister Koizumi has in the past. The Chinese and South Korean governments expressed concern over the visit. Both Abe and Foreign Minister Taro Aso have stated that any visits to Yasukuni are a domestic matter. Abe visited the Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery on 15 August 2007 and abstained from visiting the Yasukuni shrine.
Occasionally, Abe is respected among politicians in Taiwan who are part of the Pan-Green Coalition seeking Taiwanese independence. Chen Shui-bian welcomed Abe's ministership. Part of Abe's appeal in Taiwan is historical: his grandfather Nobusuke Kishi was pro-Taiwan, and his great-uncle Eisaku Satō was the last prime minister to visit Taiwan while in office.
Abe has expressed the need to strengthen political, security, and economic ties within the Southeast Asian region. Abe has increased its allies in its international campaign to counter the North Korean nuclear cards. So far, Abe has successfully visited the Philippines and Indonesia, and although China is not within the Southeast Asian region, Japan has also sought for their support. However, relations with China continue to be tarnished by the Senkaku Islands dispute.
Shinzō Abe's three-day visit to India in August 2007 was said to be the start of a new Asian alliance, building on the long history of strong, friendly bilateral relations enjoyed by India and Japan. Abe proposed a "Broader Asia" alliance of democracies as a counterweight to China's growing influence in the realm of economics and military power. Abe's initiative was seen to be the "fifth" bilateral link in this emerging scenario whereas the U.S.-Australia, U.S.-Japan, Japan-Australia, and U.S.-India links are already established. A sixth link of the India-Australia is said to be the logical corollary in an attempt to create a new quadrilateral of military cooperation which China has labeled the "Asian NATO". Abe's India foreign policy was pragmatic, as it was based on boosting Japan's resurgent economic indicators, while gaining a crucial partner in Asia. India, alone amongst all major Asian countries, does not have a history of serious military dispute with Japan. 
Abe also sought to revise or broaden the interpretation of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution in order to permit Japan to maintain de jure military forces. He had stated that "we are reaching the limit in narrowing down differences between Japan's security and the interpretation of our constitution". During his first period as prime minister he upgraded the Japan Defense Agency to full ministry status.
Like his predecessors, he supported the Japanese alliance with the United States.
Unpopularity and sudden resignation
After Agricultural Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka committed suicide, Abe's approval rating remained below 30% for months according to opinion polls of Jiji Press. Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party suffered great losses in the upper house election. Another agricultural minister, Norihiko Akagi, who was involved in a political funding scandal, resigned after the election.
In an attempt to revive his administration, Abe announced a new cabinet on 27 August 2007. However, the new agricultural minister Takehiko Endo, involved in a finance scandal, resigned only 7 days later.
On 12 September 2007, only three days after a new parliamentary session had begun, Abe announced his intention to resign his position as prime minister at an unscheduled press conference. Abe said his unpopularity was hindering the passage of an anti-terrorism law, involving among other things Japan's continued military presence in Afghanistan. Party officials also said the embattled prime minister was suffering from poor health. On 26 September 2007 Abe officially ended his term as Yasuo Fukuda became the new Prime Minister of Japan.
Return as Prime Minister
In elections on 16 December 2012, the LDP won 294 seats in the 480 seat lower house of parliament. Following his victory, Abe said "With the strength of my entire cabinet, I will implement bold monetary policy, flexible fiscal policy and a growth strategy that encourages private investment, and with these three policy pillars, achieve results." Abenomics, as his economic policy has been called consists of fiscal and monetary expansion with a 2% target interest rate. Abe also said he favours the re-building of Japan's nuclear reactors following the Fukushima disaster(though much of the authority to restart nuclear plants lies with local governments) and plans to strengthen relations with the United States. His first budget increased defense spending and manpower while reducing foreign aid.
Politics and philosophy
View on history
Abe is widely viewed as a right-wing nationalist. The British Rupert Wingfield-Hayes of BBC described him as "far more right wing than most of his predecessors." Since 1997, as the bureau chief of the 'Institute of Junior Assembly Members Who Think About the Outlook of Japan and History Education', Abe led the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform. On his official homepage he questions the extent to which coercion was applied toward the Comfort Women, dismissing Korean "revisionism" as foreign interference in Japanese domestic affairs. In a Diet session on 6 October 2006, Abe revised his statement regarding comfort women, and said that he accepted the report issued in 1993 by the sitting cabinet secretary, Yōhei Kōno, where the Japanese government officially acknowledged the issue. Later in the session, Abe stated his belief that Class A war criminals are not criminals under Japan's domestic law.
In a meeting of the Lower House Budget Committee in February 2006, Shinzō Abe said, 'There is a problem as to how to define aggressive wars; we cannot say it is decided academically', and 'It is not the business of the government to decide how to define the last world war. I think we have to wait for the estimation of historians'. However, on a TV program in July 2006 he denied that Manchukuo was a puppet state.
Abe published a book called Toward a Beautiful Nation (美しい国へ Utsukushii kuni e ) in July 2006, which became a bestseller in Japan. In this book, he says that Class A war criminals (those charged with crimes against peace) who were adjudicated in the Tokyo Tribunal after World War II were not war criminals in the eye of domestic law. The Korean and Chinese governments, as well as noted academics and commentators, have voiced concern about Abe's historical views.
In March 2007, in response to a United States Congress resolution by Mike Honda, Abe denied any government coercion in the recruitment of comfort women during World War II, in line with a statement made almost ten years before on the same issue, in which Abe voiced his opposition to the inclusion of the subject of military prostitution in several school textbooks and then denied any coercion in the "narrow" sense of the word, environmental factors notwithstanding.
However, it provoked negative reaction from Asian and Western countries, for example, a New York Times editorial on 6 March 2007:
What part of 'Japanese Army sex slaves' does Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, have so much trouble understanding and apologizing for? ... These were not commercial brothels. Force, explicit and implicit, was used in recruiting these women. What went on in them was serial rape, not prostitution. The Japanese Army's involvement is documented in the government's own defense files. A senior Tokyo official more or less apologized for this horrific crime in 1993...Yesterday, [Abe] grudgingly acknowledged the 1993 quasi-apology, but only as part of a pre-emptive declaration that his government would reject the call, now pending in the United States Congress, for an official apology. America isn't the only country interested in seeing Japan belatedly accept full responsibility. Korea and China are also infuriated by years of Japanese equivocations over the issue.
The American newspaper Washington Post editorial, "Shinzo Abe's Double Talk" (24 March 2007), also criticized him: "he's passionate about Japanese victims of North Korea—and blind to Japan's own war crimes".
Response to mass media
The Asahi Shimbun also accused Abe and Shōichi Nakagawa of censoring a 2001 NHK program concerning "The Women's International War Crimes Tribunal". The "tribunal" was a private committee to adjudicate comfort women; about 5,000 people including 64 casualties from Japan and abroad attended. The committee members, who claimed to be specialists of international law, claimed that Emperor Hirohito and the Japanese government were responsible for the use of comfort women. The TV program, however, did not mention the full name of the tribunal and keywords such as 'Japanese troops' or 'sexual slavery', and it also cut the sight of the tribunal, the host grouping, statements of the organizer, and the judgement itself. Instead, it presented criticism against the tribunal by a right-wing academic and his statement that 'there was no abduction of sex slaves and they were prostitutes'.
On the day following the Asahi Shimbun report, Akira Nagai, the chief producer and primary person responsible for the program, held a press conference and ensured the report of the Asahi Shimbun. Abe stated that the content "had to be broadcast from a neutral point of view" and "what I did is not to give political pressure". Abe said "It was a political terrorism by Asahi Shimbun and it was tremendously clear that they had intention to inhume me and Mr. Nakagawa politically, and it is also clear that it was complete fabrication." He also characterized the tribunal as a "mock trial" and raised objection to the presence of North Korean prosecutors singling them out as agents of North Korean government. Abe's actions in the NHK incident have been criticized as being both illegal (violating the Broadcast Law) and unconstitutional (violating the Japanese Constitution).
A news program aired on TBS on 21 July 2006 about a secret biological weapons troop of Imperial Japanese Army called 'Unit 731', along with a picture panel of Shinzō Abe, who has no relation to the report. Abe said in a press conference, "It is a truly big problem if they want to injure my political life". The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications inquired into fact relevance and stated that there had been an omission in editing the TV program fairly, making an administrative direction of exceptional stringent warning based upon Broadcast Law.
On 24 October 2006, a report emerged that Abe's new administration had called on the NHK to "pay attention" to the North Korean abductees issue. Critics, some even within Abe's own LDP party, charged that the government was violating freedom of expression by meddling in the affairs of the public broadcaster.
In December 2006, it was revealed that former Prime-Minister Junichiro Koizumi's government, in which Abe was Chief Cabinet Secretary, had influenced town hall style meetings, during which paid performers would ask government officials favorable questions.
On 22 November 2012, it was reported that Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) early morning TV show "Asazuba" accidentally displayed Abe's photo alongside a news report about an NHK announcer's arrest for a sex offense. Despite having no relation to the incident whatsoever, Abe's face filled viewers' screens along with the name of NHK announcer Takeshige Morimoto, who anchors NHK's "Ohayo Nippon" program on Saturday and Sunday. Morimoto was arrested for allegedly groping a woman on the train. Abe posted on his public Facebook page "This morning on the TBS show 'Asazuba,' when a newscaster reported on a story regarding the apprehension of a molester, a photo of me was shown. Images of this blunder can now be seen clearly across the Internet, Have the slander campaigns already begun!? If this were merely an accident, it would be proper for the TV station to give me a personal apology, but as yet I haven't heard a single word." The newscaster acknowledged that the incorrect image had been displayed, but merely stated that the photo was "unrelated" and did not refer to the politician by name. Neither Abe nor his office have received any form of apology.
Abe has visited Yasukuni Shrine on many occasions. While serving as Chief Cabinet Secretary in the government of Junichiro Koizumi he visited in April 2006, prompting South Korea to describe the trip as "regrettable". He did not visit while Prime Minister from September 2006 to September 2007, unlike Koizumi, who had visited yearly while in office. Abe not visiting the shrine prompted a Japanese nationalist named Yoshihiro Tanjo to cut off his own little finger in protest and mail it to the LDP.
In 2012 Abe visited the shrine on 15 August, the anniversary of the end of World War II. While campaigning for the presidency of the LDP, Abe said that he regretted not visiting the shrine while Prime Minister. After winning the presidency, he visited it again on 17 October. He said this was in an official capacity as the president of the Liberal Democratic Party.
Restoration of Sovereignty Day
On 28 April 2013, a new public event, the Restoration of Sovereignty Day, was held in Tokyo to mark the 61st anniversary of the end of the US occupation of Japan. It had been proposed by Abe in 2012. The event, which was attended by Emperor Akihito, was denounced by Okinawans who saw it as celebrating a betrayal, and there were demonstrations in both Okinawa and Tokyo.
First term (2006-2007)
Abe's first cabinet was announced on 26 September 2006. The only minister retained in his position from the previous Koizumi cabinet was Foreign Minister Taro Aso, who had been one of Abe's competitors for the LDP presidency. In addition to the cabinet positions existing under Koizumi, Abe created five new "advisor" positions. He reshuffled his cabinet on 27 August 2007.
- Toshikatsu Matsuoka committed suicide on 28 May 2007, hours before being due for questioning in connection to allegations of misappropriation of government funds. He was replaced by Norihiko Akagi, who himself resigned on 1 August 2007 due to suspicions of similar conduct. Masatoshi Wakabayashi was appointed Agriculture Minister, which he served concurrently with his post as Environment Minister.
- Masatoshi Wakabayashi was appointed Agriculture Minister on 3 September 2007, following Takehiko Endo's resignation due to a financial scandal.
- Prior to Abe's administration, this post was known as "Director General of the Defense Agency". In December 2006, its status was elevated to ministry level.
- Fumio Kyuma resigned on 3 July 2007 for controversial remarks made about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. He was replaced by Yuriko Koike, then National Security Advisor.
- Yoshimi Watanabe was appointed Minister of State for Administrative Reform upon 28 December 2007 resignation of Genichiro Sata. He served in this capacity concurrently with his role as Minister of State for Regulatory Reform.
Second term (2012-)
(26 December 2012)
|Internal Affairs||Yoshitaka Shindo|
|Foreign Affairs||Fumio Kishida|
|Deputy Prime Minister, Financial Services, Finance||Taro Aso|
|Education, Educational Reform||Hakubun Shimomura|
|Environment, Nuclear Crisis Management||Nobuteru Ishihara|
Measures for National Land Strengthening and Disaster Management
|Economic and Fiscal Policy and Economic Revitalisation||Akira Amari|
|Disaster Reconstruction||Takumi Nemoto|
|Administrative Reform and Public Servant System Reforms||Tomomi Inada|
|Okinawa/Northern Territories||Ichita Yamamoto|
|Birth Rate||Masako Mori|
|National Security Advisor||-|
|Economic Policy Advisor||-|
|North Korean Abductions Advisor||Keiji Furuya|
|Public Relations Advisor||-|
- His younger brother is Nobuo Kishi, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs (as of October 2013).
- His elder brother is Hironobu Abe, president and CEO of Mitsubishi Shōji Packaging Corporation (as of October 2013).
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Shinzō Abe.|
- Official website (Japanese)
- Shinzō Abe on Twitter
- Shinzō Abe on Facebook
- Prime Minister of Japan Official Website (English)
|House of Representatives of Japan|
|Member of the House of Representatives
for Yamaguchi's 1st district
Served alongside: Yoshirō Hayashi, Takeo Kawamura, Takaaki Koga
|Multi-member district eliminated|
|New constituency||Member of the House of Representatives
for Yamaguchi's 4th district (single-member)
|Party political offices|
|Secretary General of the Liberal Democratic Party
|President of the Liberal Democratic Party
|President of the Liberal Democratic Party
|Chief Cabinet Secretary
|Prime Minister of Japan
|Prime Minister of Japan