Skip to content
James Stavridis

Shinzo Abe’s Greatest Legacy Is Military, Not Economic

The assassinated former prime minister made Japan’s defenses more muscular, and he was the father of the Quad alliance.

A very international nationalist.

A very international nationalist.

Photographer: Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

The assassination of Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe, shocked his nation and the world. It contributed to a sweeping victory for his political party days later, cementing the Abe’s place in history.

Most analysis of his tenure, which ended in 2020, has focused on his economic initiatives, dubbed “Abenomics.” But he left perhaps a more important legacy: On the international scene, he will be largely remembered for the strategic and national-security changes he achieved, which will continue to influence the balance of power — especially in east Asia.