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Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks at a news conference during the 77th UN General Assembly in New York.

REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

Will Japan's PM avoid the "danger zone" after Abe funeral?

Japan held a controversial state funeral Tuesday for former PM Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated in early July. Now that the ceremony is over, one attendee who'll feel some relief is Fumio Kishida, the embattled current prime minister.

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Jess Frampton

Why Japan’s political Moonies have staying power

When Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reshuffled his cabinet for the first time since former PM Shinzo Abe’s assassination earlier this summer, it was a response to his falling approval rating. His government was struggling to tame rising COVID infections and acute inflation.

But it was also seen as damage control for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s ties to the controversial Unification Church. Kishida fired cabinet ministers linked to the cult-like religious movement born in South Korea whose members are known as Moonies (after founder Sun Myung Moon).

Although the PM also promised only to appoint future cabinet members who agree to review their relationship with the church, it wasn’t enough. After his popularity plummeted 16 percentage points in just a month to 36%, its lowest level since he took power, Kishida this week demanded all cabinet members review their past ties to the religious group.

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Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his cabinet ministers pose for a photo in Tokyo, Japan.

REUTERS/Issei Kato

What We're Watching: Japanese PM's cabinet reshuffle, Zelensky's bold speech, India's green bill

Moonies out of the Japanese government

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday removed all cabinet ministers linked to the controversial Unification Church from South Korea, whose members are known as Moonies (after founder Sun Myung Moon). The ruling Liberal Democratic Party came under intense scrutiny over its ties to the church following the shocking assassination last month of former PM Shinzo Abe, whose assassin blamed the church for his family’s financial ruin. Abe was not a member but praised the conservative values of the Moonies, who campaigned on behalf of his brother — the biggest name to get a pink slip from Kishida. The PM — with no ties to the church — has had a wild ride in the polls lately. His approval rating initially skyrocketed out of sympathy for the slain leader, sweeping the LDP to a big victory in the upper house elections just days later. But now his popularity has tanked to the lowest level since he took office due to a backlash against the church, long suspected of pulling the LDP's strings. The cabinet reshuffle may help boost Kishida’s numbers a bit, but he’s not out of the woods: COVID infections keep rising, and a slim majority of Japanese citizens oppose the government-funded state funeral for Abe planned for Sept. 27.

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Reflecting on Shinzo Abe and How His Legacy Will Impact Japan's Future | GZERO World

Reflecting on Shinzo Abe and how his legacy will impact Japan's future

Japan was rattled by the shocking assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo. Ian Bremmer speaks to longtime Abe adviser Tomohiko Taniguchi about Abe's foreign policy legacy.

In a GZERO World interview, they discuss whether current PM Fumio Kishida can pick up where his old boss left off, and how Abe's untimely death might ultimately change Japan. Is the time right to now realize Abe's unfulfilled dream of amending Japan's postwar pacifist constitution?

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Will His Successor Carry Out Shinzo Abe’s Legacy? | GZERO Media

Shinzo Abe’s goal of militarization & PM Kishida’s “golden opportunity” to reform Japan

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has vowed to continue where his ex-boss, the late Shinzo Abe, left off. And he just got the parliamentary majority he needs to get big things done — including, perhaps, tweaking the constitution like Abe long dreamed of.

"Kishida now [has a] golden opportunity," Tomohiko Taniguchi, Abe's former adviser and close friend, tells Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

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Podcast: As Japan reels: examining Shinzo Abe’s legacy & Japan’s future with his friend and adviser

Listen: Japan is reeling from the shocking assassination of Shinzo Abe, Japan's former and longest-serving prime minister. On the GZERO World podcast, Ian Bremmer speaks to longtime Abe adviser Tomohiko Taniguchi, who discusses the impact of Abe's legacy on the country and the broader region. Will Abe's unfulfilled dream of amending Japan's postwar pacifist constitution now be realized?

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Japan To Become More Assertive On Global Stage After PM Abe's Death | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Japan's assertive foreign and economic policy reflect Abe's legacy

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

With Japanese people mourning former PM Shinzo Abe, how will his death further influence Japan's politics?

Well, we've already seen a fairly easy majority win by Abe's own Liberal Democratic Party. He had been stumping for them when he was assassinated. His two legacies are things that the Japanese are moving on. One, Abenomics, the three arrows of fiscal policy and monetary policy and growth really underpin the new style of capitalism that Prime Minister Kishida's been talking about. I think that they will more assertively align towards those, even though the BOJ at this point, The Bank of Japan doesn't have a lot of flexibility given the indebtedness levels. But also the Quad, the CPTPP, the desire of the Japanese, the prime minister to go to NATO for the summit a couple weeks ago. I mean, all of these were really kicked off by Abe wanting a more assertive foreign policy, normalizing their defense capabilities. You might even see a move now towards reforming the constitution on the defense side, something Abe wanted to do but didn't have the votes for. Now the LDP does. I expect to see Japan increasingly assertive on the global stage like you've seen Germany under Olaf Scholz.

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Yuya Shino, Reuters

Will Shinzo Abe’s dream come true now?

In the wake of Shinzo Abe’s shock assassination on Friday, Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party — which the former PM was campaigning for till he drew his last breath — swept the upper house elections on Sunday, giving the LDP and its allies the projected two-thirds majority required in parliament to amend the country’s postwar pacifist constitution, a yet unfulfilled dream of the slain leader.

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