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Japan Diary

July 10, 2022

The Murder of Former Prime Minister Abe Some facts--.

On July 8 at noon, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot and killed in a provincial Japanese city (Nara was the capital 1300 years ago). He was in the middle of a campaign in support of the Liberal Democratic Party's candidate for the House of Councillors election on July 10.
The bullet fired from a homemade gun ruptured a carotid artery, killing Prime Minister Abe almost instantly.

Since Japan is not a totalitarian state, Abe's death is treated like any other human death, and there has been no movement to give him a state funeral. Nor did he have the support of the entire nation while he was prime minister. His death, like many other events, will be "consumed" and unfortunately forgotten.

To avoid any misunderstanding, I would like to state a few facts.

1) Who was the culprit?

The culprit was arrested at the scene: a 41-year-old bachelor. He was once employed by the Maritime Self-Defense Force for three years, but was not an career officer and had not held a regular job since leaving the SDF.

2) Why did the perpetrator shoot Mr. Abe?

So far, there is no political background to this case. Rather than a political assassination, it resembles the murder of a celebrity, which often happens in society.
The murderer confessed, "My own mother became infatuated with a certain religious group and siphoned off her wealth. I wanted to kill Mr. Abe for supporting this group (which is a factual error)."

(3) Has the myth of Japan's "safe society" collapsed? Is it possible that assassination of the prime minister could lead to militarization of society, as was the case in Japan before World War II?

Since the possession of firearms is strictly regulated in Japan, crimes involving firearms and terrorism are rare. On the other hand, there are many cases in which people who cannot get along with society, are in need of money, or are involved in unsuccessful love affairs commit crimes using knives. In this case, the perpetrator made a gun by hand.
In Japan before World War II, four prime ministers (one of them an attempt) were assassinated, two of them by a group of military officers. They tried to stop disarmament. The assassinations frightened the politicians and led to the reckless wars with China, the U.S., and the U.K.

This time, the culprits was not a career self-defense officer. Moreover, former Prime Minister Abe was the most outspoken advocate of increased defense spending among Japanese politicians. There is no way that the SDF would view such a person as an enemy.

By the way the increase in the SDF's troop strength is supported by a majority of Japanese public opinion, and that will not change even after Abe's death. That is not militarism. The Japanese people simply want to become a nation capable of defending itself.

4) How will Abe's death affect Japanese politics?

Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party is made up of several factions. Mr. Abe led the largest of these factions. With this power behind him, Mr. Abe has been strongly asserting his views on security policy and other issues in recent months. For example, he has proposed raising the defense budget from the equivalent of 1% of GDP to 2% of GDP.
On the diplomatic front, however, Abe's line does not differ significantly from that of current premier Mr.Kishida. The same bureaucrats work in both the Abe and Kishida administrations.

On the political front, it is more significant that the Abe faction will hardly be maintained. There is no politician with the ability to unite the Abe faction, which has about 100 members, right now. The Abe faction will split, and some members will be absorbed into other factions.

In two years, the Liberal Democratic Party will hold a party-chairman (he or she will become next prime minister) election. Toward that point, the reorganization of factions will proceed. Whether this will be to PM Kishida's advantage or not is an inshallah.

5) How will Abe's death affect Japan's economy?

Japan's economy is supported more by the vitality of the companies themselves than by government policies. The government can only influence the economy through fiscal and monetary policies.
On the fiscal and monetary front, Japan faces the same problems as the US and EU. How to correct the monetary easing that resulted from the 2008 financial crisis and the current Covid-19 stimulus package, and how to avoid cooling the economy as a result of tightening monetary policy?

Former Prime Minister Abe was the initiator of the monetary easing policy he called "Abenomics" in 2012, and the Bank of Japan Governor he appointed, Mr. Kuroda, still serves as Governor and is resisting monetary tightening. ....... It will be interesting to see how this plays out. If monetary policy is tightened, the yen will rise sharply and the domestic economy will show deflationary tendencies. The Japanese economy may then appear to have expanded in dollar terms, but in yen terms, people's lives will deteriorate and social discontent will increase.