Shinzo Abe, who was killed at a campaign rally in western Japan on Friday, was the nation’s longest-serving prime minister and was born into a prominent political family. He is credited with bringing some stability to Japan after a period of economic stagnation and frequent leadership changes, but he also infuriated China and South Korea, as well as many Japanese, with his nationalistic rhetoric.
These significant dates in Abe’s life and career are shown here:
September 21, 1954: Abe was born in Tokyo, the son of former foreign minister of Japan Shintaro Abe and the grandson of former prime minister Nobusuke Kishi.
1977: After earning a political science degree from Seikei University in Tokyo, the student relocates to the United States to spend three semesters studying public policy at the University of Southern California.
1979: Starts working at Kobe Steel while the company is growing its international footprint.
1982: Leaves the company to pursue new opportunities with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the Foreign Ministry.
1993: Initially chosen to serve as an LDP lawmaker for Yamaguchi, a prefecture in the southwest. The party’s main group, Seiwakai, which had previously been led by Abe’s father, who passed away in 1991, becomes a member of and later gets led by Abe, who is already thought of as a conservative.
2005: Under Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Abe is designated chief cabinet secretary and is in charge of negotiating the release of kidnapped Japanese nationals from North Korea. He won the LDP leadership election in the same year, putting him in position to succeed the current prime minister.
September 26, 2006: Abe, who takes office as Japan’s first prime minister, oversees economic reforms while adopting a tough stance against North Korea and attempting to forge relationships with China and South Korea.
2007: Abe steps down as prime minister, citing health reasons, following electoral losses that caused the LDP to lose control of the legislature for the first time in 52 years. Abe has ulcerative colitis, but he has been able to manage it with medication.
2012: Abe becomes the second prime minister after being re-elected as LDP president.
2013: Abe introduces his “Abenomics” plans, which include structural reforms and easy lending, in an effort to spur economic growth. Japan’s relations with China go through a particularly difficult period but start to improve after Abe talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the APEC summit in Beijing.
2014-2020: After being re-elected as LDP leader, he held the position of prime minister for a total of four terms. During this time, he forms strong bonds with Donald Trump, with whom he attends summits and goes golfing.
August 28, 2020: Declares his resignation as prime minister as his ulcerative colitis flares up once more, this time citing health concerns. Abe was already the longest-serving prime minister in Japan at that moment.
2021: Abe demonstrates his ability to inflame Beijing even after leaving the office with remarks about Taiwan, the independent island China claims as its own and has threatened to assault. In a speech, Abe cautioned that “military expeditions will lead to economic suicide.”
July 8, 2022: While making a speech at a political gathering in the city of Nara, Abe is fatally shot. Police detain a man suspect, albeit they do not yet know his whereabouts.