|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|
|Born||安倍晋三 (Abe Shinzō?)
21 September 1954
|Political party||Liberal Democratic Party|
|Alma mater||Seikei University|
|Religion||Shintoism / Zen Buddhism|
Shinzō Abe (安倍 晋三 Abe Shinzō [abe ɕinzoː]; born September 21, 1954) is the Prime Minister of Japan, re-elected to the position in December 2012. Abe is also the President of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and chairman of the Oyagaku propulsion parliamentary group.
Abe served for a year as Prime Minister from 2006 to 2007. Hailing from a politically prominent family, he became Japan's youngest post-war prime minister, and the first to be born after World War II, when he was elected by a special session of the National Diet in September 2006. Abe resigned on September 12, 2007, for health reasons. He was replaced by Yasuo Fukuda, beginning a string of prime ministers, none of whom retained office for more than a year before Abe staged a political comeback.
On September 26, 2012, Abe defeated former Minister of Defense Shigeru Ishiba in a run-off vote to win the LDP presidential election. Following the LDP's landslide victory in the 2012 general election, Abe became the Prime Minister again. He is the first former Prime Minister to return to the office since Shigeru Yoshida in 1948. Abe was re-elected at the 2014 general election, retaining his two-thirds majority with coalition partner New Kōmeitō Party.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Member of House of Representatives
- 3 First term as Prime Minister
- 4 Second term as Prime Minister
- 5 Politics and philosophy
- 6 Honours, awards and international recognition
- 7 Cabinets
- 8 Family
- 9 See also
- 10 Bibliography
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Abe was born in Nagato, Yamaguchi to a politically prominent family. 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 his book "Utsukushii Kuni e" ("Toward a Beautiful Country"), Abe wrote "Some people used to point to my grandfather as a 'Class-A war criminal suspect,' and I felt strong repulsion. Because of that experience, I may have become emotionally attached to 'conservatism,' on the contrary".
In 1950, Shigeru Yoshida's Liberal Party and Kishi's Democratic Party merged as an anti-leftist coalition and was reestablished as the LDP. He soon moved to Tokyo. He attended Seikei Elementary School, Seikei Junior High School and Seikei Senior 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 government 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.
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 September 20, 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)|
||This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. The specific problem is: 1st term 2nd term jumbled dates. (April 2014)|
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. In 2013, due to unprecedented actions taken by the Shinzō Abe government, the Eurekahedge Japan Hedge Fund Index posted a record 28 percent return. Abe is credited with the improvement in the Japanese economy through a policy of combining increased government spending with unprecedented monetary easing, an approach which has been labeled "Abenomics."
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.
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 held conservative views in the Japanese succession controversy, and abandoned a proposed legislative amendment to permit women to inherit the Chrysanthemum Throne shortly after the birth of Prince Hisahito of Akishino.
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, Towards 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 July 7, 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.
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 and Abe's visits to Yasukuni shrine (see below).
Abe, on both his terms as prime minister, has worked to improve the strategic relationship of Japan with India. Abe was an initiator of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between Japan, the United States, Australia and India in 2007. His 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.
In December, 2013, he announced a five-year plan of military expansion. He described this as "proactive pacificism," with the goal of making Japan a more "normal" country, able to defend itself. This was in reaction to a Chinese buildup and a decreased American influence in the region.
Abe has attempted to centralize security policy in the Prime Minister's office by creating the Japanese National Security Council to better coordinate national security policy, and by ordering the first National Security Strategy in Japan's history.
On May 30, 2014 Abe told officials from the ASEAN countries, the United States and Australia, that Japan wanted to play a major role in maintaining regional security, a departure from the passiveness it has displayed since World War II. He offered Japan's support to other countries in resolving territorial disputes.
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, marking the first time it had lost control in 52 years. 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 August 27, 2007. However, the new agricultural minister Takehiko Endo, involved in a finance scandal, resigned only 7 days later.
On September 12, 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 September 26, 2007 Abe officially ended his term as Yasuo Fukuda became the new Prime Minister of Japan.
Second term as Prime Minister
In elections on December 16, 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 inflation 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.
Abe's return to the Prime Ministership saw a renewed attempt to downplay Japan's wartime atrocities in school textbooks, an issue that had contributed to his earlier downfall. Abe concluded the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement with Australia's Abbott Government in 2014, and addressed a joint sitting of the Australian Parliament in July. In heradling the agreement, he also offered condolences for the suffering of Australians during World War Two - singling out the Kokoda Track campaign and Sandakan Death Marches.
In 2014 Abe called for snap elections. The opposition parties attempted to field a united front in opposition to Abe's policies, but found themselves divided on them.
Politics and philosophy
View on history
Abe is widely viewed as a right-wing nationalist. The British journalist 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 October 6, 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 March 6, 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" (March 24, 2007), also criticized him: "he's passionate about Japanese victims of North Korea—and blind to Japan's own war crimes". A March 2, 2014 New York Times editorial called Abe a "nationalist" who is a profound threat to US-Japan relations.
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 victims 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[who?] as being both illegal (violating the Broadcast Law) and unconstitutional (violating the Japanese Constitution).
A news program aired on TBS on July 21, 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 October 24, 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 November 22, 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. 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 several 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 visited again on August 15, 2012, the anniversary of the end of World War II, and after winning the presidency of the Liberal Democratic Party, he visited on October 17, 2012 in an official capacity as party president.
He initially refrained from visiting the shrine as a sitting prime minister. He did not visit at all during his first term from September 2006 to September 2007, unlike his predecessor 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. While campaigning for the presidency of the LDP in 2012, Abe said that he regretted not visiting the shrine while Prime Minister. He again refrained from visiting the shrine during the first year of his second stint as Prime Minister in consideration for improving relations with China and Korea, whose leaders refused to meet with Abe during this time. He said on December 9, 2013 that "it is natural that we should express our feelings of respect to the war dead who sacrificed their lives for the nation... but it is my thinking that we should avoid making [Yasukuni visits] political and diplomatic issues." In lieu of visiting, Abe sent ritual offerings to the shrine for festivals in April and October 2013, as well as the anniversary of the end of World War II in August 2013.
His first visit to the shrine as Prime Minister took place on December 26, 2013, the first anniversary of his second term in office. It was the first visit to the shrine by a sitting prime minister since Junichiro Koizumi visited in August 2006. Abe said that he "prayed to pay respect for the war dead who sacrificed their precious lives and hoped that they rest in peace," and said he had "no intention to neglect the feelings of the people in China and South Korea." The Chinese government published a protest that day, calling government visits to the shrine "an effort to glorify the Japanese militaristic history of external invasion and colonial rule and to challenge the outcome of World War II." Qin Gang of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: Abe is "unwelcome by Chinese people.. Chinese leaders won't meet him any more." The Mainichi Shimbun argued in an editorial that the visit could also "cast a dark shadow" on relations with the United States, and the US embassy in Tokyo released a statement that "the United States is disappointed that Japan's leadership has taken an action that will exacerbate tensions with Japan's neighbors." Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. officials urge Abe not to visit the shrine and pay homage to war criminals anymore. Public intellectual Amitai Etzioni of the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies, who was a child in Germany when the Nazis rose to power, has stated in response to Abe's visits, "Unlike Japan, [Germany] faced their past, came to terms with it and learned from it. Japan should do the same." Etzioni criticized Prime Minister Abe's visit to the shrine as well as what he refers to as Japan's recent "nationalist wave" in an op-ed for The Diplomat. On August 15, 2014, the 69th anniversary of the surrender of Japan in World War II, Abe chose to not visit the shrine, in what was perceived as a diplomatic gesture to South Korea, China and Taiwan. Despite Abe's absence, China and South Korea both voiced their disapproval at Japan's leadership as a large number of politicians, and three cabinet members did attend the shrine to mark the anniversary.
Restoration of Sovereignty Day
On April 28, 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.
Honours, awards and international recognition
- : Member Special Class of the Order of Abdulaziz Al Saud, April 2007. ( Saudi Arabia)
- Grand Cross of the Order of Honour ( Greece)
- Member First Class of the Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa Order, August 2013. ( Bahrain)
- Grand Cross of the Ivorian Order of Merit, January 2014. ( Ivory Coast)
- : Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau, October 2014. ( Netherlands)
- 2013 Foreign Policy Top 100 Global Thinkers, 2013. ( USA)
- Herman Kahn Award, September 2013. ( USA)
- Asian of the Year award, December 2013. ( Singapore)
- Time 100 in 2014, April 2014. ( USA)
First term (2006–2007)
Abe's first cabinet was announced on September 26, 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 August 27, 2007.
- Toshikatsu Matsuoka committed suicide on May 28, 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 August 1, 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 September 3, 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 July 3, 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 December 28, 2007 resignation of Genichiro Sata. He served in this capacity concurrently with his role as Minister of State for Regulatory Reform.
Second term (2012–present)
Abe's father Shintaro Abe served in the House of Representatives from 1958 to 1991 and was foreign minister from 1982 to 1986; he is the son of Kan Abe who served in the House from 1937 to 1946. Abe's mother Yoko Abe is the daughter of Nobusuke Kishi, a former prime minister who was at one time imprisoned as a "Class A" war crimes suspect following the war. His older brother, Hironobu Abe, became president and CEO of Mitsubishi Shōji Packaging Corporation, while his younger brother, Nobuo Kishi, became Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Abe married Akie Matsuzaki, a socialite and former radio disk jockey, in 1987. She is the daughter of the president of Morinaga, a chocolate manufacturer. She is popularly known as the "domestic opposition party" due to her outspoken views, which often contradict her husband's. Following her husband's first stint as prime minister, she opened an organic izakaya in the Kanda district of Tokyo, but is not active in management due to the urging of her mother-in-law. The couple have no children, having undergone unsuccessful fertility treatments earlier in their marriage.
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- Japan's Leaders Rigged Voter Forums, a Government Report Says, New York Times, December 14, 2006.
- TV blunder labels Abe a train groper, RocketNews24, November 22, 2012.
- Abe's April Yasukuni visit regrettable, Seoul says The Japan Times, August 5, 2006
- Fears mount over LDP's nationalistic turn Saber-rattling over island disputes likely to grow louder The Japan Times, September 22, 2012
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