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Changing the Guard in Japan: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Resign

August 28, 2020

Episode Notes:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced at a press conference that he will be stepping down from the premiership.  Abe, the longest-serving Japanese Prime Minister said that his health had been deteriorating since July and that he could not allow his poor health to result in wrong political decisions. Abe resigned from his position as Prime Minister in 2007 due to chronic ulcerative colitis.  His health improved with a regime of treatment and medication, which allowed him to return to public life, and he was re-elected Prime Minister in 2012.


Abe was known for an ambitious political program, including economic and defense changes, which remain only partially realized. He has been a strong ally and supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump.


To help us better understand the implications and likely consequences of Abe’s resignation, as well as his legacy, we are joined by Professor Mike Mochizuki of George Washington University. Professor Mochizuki holds the Japan-U.S. Relations Chair in Memory of Gaston Sigur at the Elliott School of International Affairs. Dr. Mochizuki was director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies from 2001 to 2005. Previously, he was a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He was also co-director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Policy at RAND and has taught at the University of Southern California and Yale University.  He has forthcoming books on the U.S.-Japan alliance and the rise of China, as well as on war, memory, and security in Asia.


[ 01:46 ]Did this announcement take observers by surprise?

[ 02:26 ] Who are the likely candidates to succeed Abe? How will his departure affect the strength of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in relation to other parties?

[ 05:18 ] Is his successor—whoever it may be—likely to continue his policies, including a more robust defense posture?

[ 07:21 ] How does his departure affect Japan’s relationship with other major countries, specifically China, Korea, Russia, and the United States?

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