Shinzo Abe’s victory over Shigeru Ishiba in the Liberal Democratic Party’s leadership election cemented his position as Japan’s prime minister for the next three years. Now in his third consecutive term in the top job, Abe is expected to make a concerted push for revising the Constitution, which has not been amended since going into effect in 1947. But despite Abe’s popularity, his efforts are likely to fail due to the “invisible hand” of public opinion in Japanese security debates that constrain how far any leader can go at one time.
After a one-year stint in 2006-2007, Abe returned to power in late 2012 and has been a driving force of change since. While he campaigned on the economic platform dubbed Abenomics, his more significant successes have been in the security domain. The list of his accomplishments include: drafting Japan’s first national security strategy; passing a state secrets law; reinterpreting the Constitution to allow the Self-Defense Forces to exercise the right of collective self-defense; and establishing a national security apparatus to conduct a top-down approach to diplomacy and security policies to enable Japan to make proactive contributions to peace.
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