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PacNet #45 – Abe’s Half Year: Maintaining Hope for Situation after Election

A half year has passed since Abe Shinzo became Japan’s prime minister. My initial assessment of Abe, that he was a “pragmatic and creative realist,” proved to be right on the whole, with one potential exception in the area of historical memory. But 40 days of turmoil (from late April to the end of May) on historical memory issues was effectively controlled by Abe’s Cabinet. After the July House of Councillors’ election, in which the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is expected to win a substantial majority, Abe’s future largely depends on whether he has learned from those 40 days of turmoil that he has no support either from the international community or from domestic voters for “narrowly oriented chauvinistic nationalism.”