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Shin­zo Abe may be gone but his lega­cy lives on

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Two days after the fatal shooting of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan is still trying to come to terms with the unexpected loss of its most consequential leader in recent memory. But while Abe may be gone, the slain politician’s life-long dream of building a brand new, fully independent and proactive Japan that is “able to defend itself” may now be closer to becoming reality than ever before.

During his two stints as prime minister from 2006 to 2007 and from 2012 to 2020, Abe pursued an ambitious economic agenda known as “Abenomics”, which sought to liberalise Japan’s stagnating economy and implement structural reforms. He also sought to revise Japan’s pacifist constitution in an effort to allow the Asian powerhouse to project military force overseas.

Before stepping down from office in 2020 over health concerns, Abe proved himself to be one of the most important statesmen in shaping the geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific in the early 21st century. He was the chief architect behind the revival of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the Quad), which brings Australia, US, India and Japan together in a strategic alliance aimed at blunting China’s economic and military might in the Indo-Pacific region. He also oversaw a massive expansion in Tokyo’s strategic assistance to developing nations, especially in Southeast Asia.

Throughout his political career, Abe gained the respect of many at home and abroad for his efforts to increase his country’s international presence and to bring stability to its politics. His transformative policy positions and at times ultra-nationalistic rhetoric, however, also earned the ire of neighbouring countries such as China and South Korea, which are still haunted by Japan’s World War II atrocities, as well as progressives and religious conservatives in Japan, who lamented bouts of historical revisionism.

Abe’s assassination last week already proved to be as consequential as his life. It........

© Al Jazeera

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