NATIONAL

A long career, ended with two gun shots

Shinzo Abe, then-secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, places a victory flower on the name of a LDP candidate at the LDP headquarters in 2003 after the start of ballot counting in a parliamentary election.  | REUTERS
Shinzo Abe, then-secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, places a victory flower on the name of a LDP candidate at the LDP headquarters in 2003 after the start of ballot counting in a parliamentary election. | REUTERS

Following the family tradition, Shinzo Abe entered politics in 1993. His ascent started as deputy chief Cabinet secretary in 2000 and he eventually climbed it to the top post in 2006. After a brief hiatus due to illness, Abe returned as Japan’s 96th prime minster in 2012 and eventually became the country’s longest-reigning leader, bring stability to a ruling party that had been plagued by a rapid rotation of prime ministers.

During his career, he nurtured strong ties with four U.S. presidents, initiated talks with hostile neighbors and helped Tokyo win its bid for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. He also courted controversy with a hawkish diplomacy and a long-fought plan to amend the pacifist Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, and almost met his downfall with several corruption-related scandals.

On July 8, 2022, while stump campaigning in the LDP stronghold of Nara, bullets from a handmade gun brought the statesman’s illustrious career to an abrupt halt.

Here are a few memories of his life and career.

Abe, as deputy chief Cabinet secretary, meets North Korean leader Kim Jung Il in 2002 | KYODO
Abe, as deputy chief Cabinet secretary, meets North Korean leader Kim Jung Il in 2002. | KYODO

Abe bows after being chosen as the new president of the Liberal Democratic Party in 2006. | POOL / VIA BLOOMBERG
Abe bows after being chosen as the new president of the Liberal Democratic Party in 2006. | POOL / VIA BLOOMBERG

U.S. President George W. Bush and Abe at the White House in 2007 | REUTERS
U.S. President George W. Bush and Abe at the White House in 2007 | REUTERS

Abe receives a tour of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture in December 2012. | POOL / VIA BLOOMBERG
Abe receives a tour of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture in December 2012. | POOL / VIA BLOOMBERG

In 2013, Abe and colleagues celebrate Tokyo winning its bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. | KYODO
In 2013, Abe and colleagues celebrate Tokyo winning its bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. | KYODO

Abe visits Yasukuni Shrine in 2013. | AFP-JIJI
Abe visits Yasukuni Shrine in 2013. | AFP-JIJI

Abe and wife Akie show off San Francisco Giants baseball jerseys from Giants outfielder Nori Aoki and wife Sachi Ohtake Aoki in San Francisco, California, in 2015. | BLOOMBERG
Abe and wife Akie show off San Francisco Giants baseball jerseys from Giants outfielder Nori Aoki and wife Sachi Ohtake Aoki in San Francisco, California, in 2015. | BLOOMBERG

Abe and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach in 2015 | REUTERS
Abe and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach in 2015 | REUTERS

Abe and former U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington in 2015 | THE NEW YORK TIMES
Abe and former U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington in 2015 | THE NEW YORK TIMES

Abe alongside world leaders at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit in 2016 in Mie Prefecture | KYODO
Abe alongside world leaders at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit in 2016 in Mie Prefecture | KYODO

Abe and wife Akie with Queen Elizabeth II in 2016 | AFP-JIJI
Abe and wife Akie with Queen Elizabeth II in 2016 | AFP-JIJI

Abe at LDP headquarters following a victory in the Upper House election by his ruling coalition in 2016 | REUTERS
Abe at LDP headquarters following a victory in the Upper House election by his ruling coalition in 2016 | REUTERS

Abe at an election campaign rally in Fukushima in 2017 | REUTERS
Abe at an election campaign rally in Fukushima in 2017 | REUTERS

Abe with an Akita Inu puppy presented to Russian figure skating gold medalist Alina Zagitova, in Moscow in 2018 | REUTERS
Abe with an Akita Inu puppy presented to Russian figure skating gold medalist Alina Zagitova, in Moscow in 2018 | REUTERS

Abe's surprise appearance as Mario at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro | REUTERS
Abe’s surprise appearance as Mario at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro | REUTERS

Abe and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House in New Delhi in 2015 | AFP-JIJI
Abe and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House in New Delhi in 2015 | AFP-JIJI

Abe greets attendees of the annual cherry blossom-viewing party in Tokyo in 2019. | KYODO
Abe greets attendees of the annual cherry blossom-viewing party in Tokyo in 2019. | KYODO

Abe and former U.S. President Trump at the Mobara Country Club | ERIC SCHAFF / THE NEW YORK TIMES
Abe and former U.S. President Trump at the Mobara Country Club | ERIC SCHAFF / THE NEW YORK TIMES

Abe bumps fists with voters after delivering an Upper House election campaign speech on June 22 | REUTERS
Abe bumps fists with voters after delivering an Upper House election campaign speech on June 22 | REUTERS