GREATEST HITS, 10: China celebrated his assassination, but Abe’s legacy surged in Japan elections

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by WorldTribune Staff, July 10, 2022

The shocking assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe two days before a national election dealt a blow to his powerful anti-China political posture in Japan, but a new MAGA-like populist party has emerged.

Even after he left office in 2020, Abe was a major obstacle to China’s relentless push for global influence and an advocate for the defense of Taiwan and the rearming of Japan.

Rally for the new Sanseito Party in Tokyo. / Twitter

As expected, Japan’s ruling coalition of the pro-China Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito on Sunday increased seats and solidified its two-thirds super majority.

With this “victory” due mainly to sympathy votes for the assassinated Abe, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s position within LDP was strengthened.

Recently, to Abe’s surprise, Kishida abruptly replaced defense undersecretary Kazuhisa Shimada against the protests by Abe and current defense minister Nobuo Kishi, Abe’s younger brother, who are staunch supporters of Taiwan and have been advocating an increase in Japan’s defense spending to 2% of the GDP.

Japan has since World War II strictly limited defense spending to less than 1%, a political issue of extreme sensitivity.

Abe has in the past year vocally advocated for Taiwan security in relationship with Japan’s in conflict with Kishida’s relatively pro-China policy.

Political observers in Japan said that without a doubt, both the Chinese Communist Party and Kishida’s LDP benefited from Abe’s tragic exit.

Whereas the Abe administration had aligned on significant issues with the foreign policy of the Trump administration, Kishidida’s LDP has been criticized as a “puppet” of globalist and pro-China policy of the Biden White House.

The current U.S. ambassador to Japan is Obama loyalist, Rahm Emanuel.

Political analysts in Japan said the loss of Abe’s leadership would significantly weaken the relatively anti-CCP Seiwakai faction relative to Kishida’s Kochikai faction which favors appeasement policies toward the increasingly militant China posture in the region.

Meanwhile a significant political development in Japan is the rise of a new party, Sanseito, also known as the D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) Party.

Founded on April 11, 2020, by Sohei Kamiya, its rallies have been attracting large and enthusiastic crowds and its leaders have been openly calling out prominent “globalist” politicians by name that have been protected from scrutiny by Japan’s mainstream media, led by NHK.

Sanseito has also openly opposed Covid lockdown and enforced vaccine policies.

Abe’s influence as a dominant politician and power broker were evident in Japan’s upper house parliamentary elections Sunday. The LDP and its junior coalition partner Komeito were on track to win between 69 and 83 seats out of the 125 contested in Sunday’s vote, according to exit polls.

Abe, 67, was pronounced dead around five and a half hours after being shot during a rally in the city of Nara.

Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, has admitted to shooting Abe, police said during a news conference on Friday. He was taken to the Nara District Prosecutor’s Office on Sunday morning and is being investigated as a “suspect for murder.”

Police were uncharacteristically quick to identify Yamagami and supply information about him. They said he was a Nara resident who had served with Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Forces for three years but now appeared to be unemployed and was motivated by personal rather than political factors.

Abe’s assassination was celebrated in China. A social media account of China Central Television was filled with comments rejoicing in the attack that killed Abe. One Weibo post said it would be fitting if Abe atoned with his life for Japan’s invasion of China before World War II just a day after the 85th anniversary of the start of hostilities in 1937. That post got 210,000 likes.

Tomohiko Taniguchi, Abe’s long-serving foreign policy adviser and speechwriter, told Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin in an interview that years ago, Abe understood that Tokyo had to do three things if it wanted to withstand growing Chinese power over the long term: Japan would have to enhance its economy, reinvest in its alliance with the United States, and expand its diplomatic ties by reaching out to Australia and India.

“Abe meticulously cultivated his relationship with Trump, making sure he was the first foreign leader to visit Trump Tower after the November 2016 election and the first to visit Trump at Mar-a-Lago,” Rogin noted in a July 8 op-ed. And Trump “came to see Abe as a senior statesman and a friend, as did President Barack Obama before him. This was a testament to Abe’s personal diplomatic skill.”

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe remained a powerful voice for Japan’s ruling conservative coalition. / Kyodo

Taniguchi told Rogin that Abe “knew two things: that the United States’ continued presence is vital for the region and beyond, and that for the United States to stay engaged in the region, Japan is vital. His tactful relationship-building [efforts] both with Obama and Trump were all based on that realist consideration.”

Rogin noted that “large chunks of the conceptual framework for today’s U.S. strategy in East Asia can be traced back to Abe’s initiatives and speeches, such as the idea of a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific.’ Abe’s work to bring together the United States, Japan, Australia and India was instrumental in the formation of the now-formal diplomatic grouping called ‘the Quad.’ Focusing on shared values rather than explicitly targeting China was a hallmark of Abe’s approach.”

Abe said during a 2014 speech in Singapore: “The sheer idea of the rule of law, which is one great pillar for human rights, has taken deeper root. Freedom, democracy, and the rule of law, which undergirds these two, form the Asia-Pacific’s rich basso continuo that supports the melody played in a bright and cheery key. I find myself newly gripped by that sound day after day.”

In one of his final diplomatic acts, earlier this year Abe sounded “an alarm about China’s increasingly dangerous menacing of Taiwan. He publicly called for the United States to abandon its policy of ‘strategic ambiguity’ and publicly declare its intention to come to Taiwan’s defense if China attacks,” Rogin noted.

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