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Gearoid Reidy

What the World Got Wrong About Shinzo Abe

His time in power was often tainted by an undeserved distrust. But all Abe sought to do was to make Japan a normal country. 

Offering prayers.

Offering prayers.

Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

Japan’s former leader, Shinzo Abe, was always a polarizing figure. But the fissures that emerged during his return to power in 2012 were largely brushed aside as the world united in grief over his murder

At the time, a Japan specialist at the Obama-era state department said that one would need “a microscope to find one iota of an upside” in Abe’s becoming prime minister again after his first term in office six years earlier. John Kerry, then secretary of state, named Japan as the biggest problem in Asia rather than its more aggressive neighbors