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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Reuters

Viewpoint: How Abe still casts a shadow over Kishida in Japan

Former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe was tragically gunned down one year ago. Yet he still casts a long shadow on Japanese politics and the agenda of current PM Fumio Kishida.

Last year, Kishida’s public approval ratings nosedived mainly because of controversies related to Abe, like the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s ties to the Unification Church (or “Moonies”). Those ties go back decades to former PM Nobusuke Kishi, Abe’s grandfather. Since then, Kishida has regained his political footing. But when it comes to Japan’s national security, foreign affairs, and economic policies, Kishida still walks in Abe’s shadow. Or does he?

To get an idea of how this is all playing out, especially as Kishida mulls calling snap elections later this year, we sat down for a chat with David Boling, Eurasia Group’s lead Japan analyst.

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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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Reflecting on Shinzo Abe and how his legacy will impact Japan's future
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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Shinzo Abe’s goal of militarization & PM Kishida’s “golden opportunity” to reform Japan
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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Assassinated! Japan’s grief & how Shinzo Abe’s goals will shape Asia
Assassinated! Japan’s Grief & How Shinzo Abe’s Goals Will Shape Asia | GZERO World with Ian Bremmer

Assassinated! Japan’s grief & how Shinzo Abe’s goals will shape Asia

How will the shocking assassination of Shinzo Abe, Japan's former and longest-serving prime minister, reshape the country and the broader region?

And will it lead to realizing Abe's unfulfilled dream of amending Japan's postwar pacifist constitution?

On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer speaks to longtime Abe adviser Tomohiko Taniguchi, who shares how he felt when he found out his close friend had died.

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Japan’s history of political assassinations
Ian Explains: A History of Political Assassinations in Japan | GZERO World

Japan’s history of political assassinations

The shocking assassination a week ago of former Prime Minister Shinzo has rattled Japan, where such acts of political violence are now extremely rare — but were once common.

In 1932, the head of government was killed by army cadets in an attempted coup. In 1960, Abe's own grandfather, also then-PM, survived a knife attack. Japan's last high-profile assassination occurred that same year, when a socialist politician was stabbed to death on national television.

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How Shinzo Abe's positive legacy could shape Japan's future
The Impact of Shinzo Abe's Assassination on Japan's Future | GZERO Media

How Shinzo Abe's positive legacy could shape Japan's future

How will the shocking murder of former PM Shinzo Abe affect Japan moving forward?

In past national tragedies, especially the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, longtime Abe adviser and close friend Tomohiko Taniguchi says that the "outpouring of sympathies and empathies from abroad helped a lot."

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