Asia St: What Abe’s Assassination Means for Japan

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What Abe’s Assassination Means for Japan

July 8, 2022

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (far right) and BGA Managing Director Kiyo Aburaki (far left) at a LDP session on semiconductors. (Photo Credit: BGA Japan).

BGA’s Japan team, led by Managing Director Kiyo Aburaki, wrote an update to clients on the implications of the assassination of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Abe was a friend of BGA who had been involved in a number of BGA Japan initiatives, including discussions on the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP’s) approach to semiconductors (pictured above).

Context

  • Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot to death in Nara, east of Osaka, on July 8 while delivering a speech. The event came just days before the country’s July 10 upper house election.
  • While the gunman’s motive is still unclear, a suspect — a Japanese national and former member of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force — has been apprehended.

Significance

  • Abe’s assassination is expected to have an immediate rallying effect within the ruling LDP. Abe’s death will widen the LDP’s margin of victory in the upcoming upper house election. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the LDP president, is liberal by nature, and some of the LDP’s right-wing supporters have tended to support more conservative parties, such as the Restoration Party.
  • The loss of Abe’s leadership may lead to factionalism, particularly given his role as the leader of the largest faction within the LDP. This could weaken the party over the medium to long term. Kishida’s position could become tenuous if the Abe faction were to lose its unity and split.

Implications

  • With Japan’s next general election not scheduled for another three years, businesses can expect policy stability. This is despite possible movements within the LDP that could affect party dynamics.
  • Notwithstanding Abe’s loss, Japan will continue to honor its security commitments and move ahead with plans in this domain. This includes ramping up defense spending significantly by year’s end. There will be no changes to the U.S.-Japan alliance and Japan’s Russia and China policies. Like Abe, Kishida is a proponent of strengthening the U.S.-Japan alliance, and the government is unwavering in its commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, particularly given the growing security threats from China and North Korea.

BGA will continue to keep you updated on developments in Japan as they occur. If you have any comments or questions, please contact BGA Japan Managing Director Kiyoaki Aburaki at kaburaki@bowergroupasia.com.