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(September 4, 2020) Abe legacy is Japan as 'normal' nation

Japan's outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be missed throughout much of Asia, including China. His health-induced political departure attributable to a recurrence of ulcerative colitis brings to an end Japan's longest-serving prime minister in a consecutive tenure. While much will be recorded about his rich legacy, Mr Abe should be seen as a natural mover and shaker who reshaped Japan into a more "normal" country able to pursue its national interest like others by all available means.

Mr Abe leveraged Japan's wherewithal and raised its global game by punching above its already considerably weight, displaying finesse and pragmatism and seizing initiatives at will after he took power in December 2012. His longevity in office is unlikely to be surpassed by any successor. Leaders from variable parliamentary systems, as opposed to fixed-term presidencies, generally come and go without enough time for foreign policy continuity. Mr Abe's global impact meant he had to have two things under control, namely intra-party factionalism within the Liberal Democratic Party and intra-coalition unity with the Komeito Party, a junior partner.