Shinzo Abe

Shinzo Abe: Defending Japan, defending allies

Miriam Grace A. Go

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Shinzo Abe: Defending Japan, defending allies

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe makes a speech before he was shot from behind by a man in Nara, western Japan July 8, 2022 in this photo taken by The Asahi Shimbun.


It was in Abe-san's watch that Japan lifted its ban on coming to the defense of friendly countries under attack. The Philippines was the first beneficiary of that
July 8, 2022

Defending Japan.

Sixty-eight years ago this month, the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) were established. But it was during Shinzo Abe’s term as the longest-serving prime minister that Japan’s unified military forces got the boost they needed.

He increased defense spending, arresting the decline that had been going on for years. This renewed focus on defense and security matters projected Japan as a power and dependable ally to the democracies around the world, and the Indo-Pacific region specifically.

It was in Abe-san’s watch that the government broke free from the legal prohibition that, since after World War II, had prevented Japan from coming to the defense of friendly countries under attack.

As soon as this ban was lifted, Japan donated defense equipment to the Philippines and other less-developed democracies. The Philippines was the first beneficiary of that.

Abe-san had also pushed for the revision of Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution to explicitly mention the JSDF and legitimize it. The article prohibits the maintenance of forces “with war potential.”

While this constitutional revision didn’t come to pass, the JSDF remained popular among the population. During Abe’s time, the percentage of the population viewing the JSDF favorably reached more than 92% — the highest rating it had gotten since the Cabinet Office started that kind of survey about half a century ago, as pointed out by political journalist Rui Abiru.

Today, July 8, former Prime Minister Abe was shot while campaigning for a party mate in Nara Prefecture. Ironically — no, tragically — the suspected assassin, reports NHK, served in the Japan Maritime Defense Force, a force under the JSDF, for about 3 years until 2005. That was just a year before Abe became commander in chief.

July 9, 2022


I could have written this piece in 2020 (almost two years after I met him) as an explainer, and used a more newsy or straightforward headline, like “4 reasons Shinzo Abe’s Japan is the Philippines best friend” or “Why Japan is a most trusted country by Filipinos.” An editor even tried to convince me to publish it under our “Thought Leaders” section instead of under “Rappler Blogs.”

But doing so, I thought, would’ve failed to capture my fascination with the man. The person, the politician, the nationalist, the leader, the diplomat, the global citizen, the statesman, the visionary, the strategist — actually, there is no way to capture him, his vision, his life in one writing. Not in a book, certainly not in a “blog.”

He put Japan back on the world stage. Japan is what it is in the international community now because of him. I, a citizen of his neighbor country, his “brother” country, was certain I could trust Japan to be working towards peace, development, and stability in the region — “a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he loved to say.

I’m hoping the people of Japan will realize the greatness of the leader who stood in their midst. That, like him, they would reach out to the world with their heads held high, proud of their place in the community of nations, their role in the history that is being made. Please don’t waste Abe-san’s legacy. You — we — will not have another one like him in a long, long time. No, there won’t be another one like him again.
安倍晋三-san, my wish was to meet you again, talk about “Eien no Zero” (The Eternal Zero), and ask about your dream in your youth to make movies. That won’t happen anymore. But I shall hope to see Japan celebrating and honoring the new story you’ve woven for your people, your country, and your neighbors.

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Miriam Grace A. Go

Miriam Grace A Go’s areas of interest are local governance, campaigns and elections, and anything Japanese.