The assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ended one of the most remarkable political careers in modern Japanese history. Abe was a political phoenix, rising from the ashes of a failed first term as premier in 2006-07. He returned five years later, serving from 2012 until late 2020, and reshaped Japanese foreign and domestic policy. His death removes the leading voice on Japan’s role in the world and raises questions about the future not only of Japanese policy, but also society.
The last time a major Japanese political figure was murdered was in 1960, when the chairman of the Japan Socialist Party was attacked by a teenage ultranationalist during a speech in Tokyo. Abe, 67, was campaigning for the Liberal Democratic Party in Nara, the ancient capital in central Japan, known more for its tame deer and historical landmarks than political activism.