Asia's Mystery Man
When Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited the controversial Tokyo war memorial known as Yasukuni Shrine last month, the story made headlines around the world and triggered indignant protests in Seoul and Beijing. But when the news broke a few days later that Koizumi's political confidant Shinzo Abe had made his own surreptitious visit to the shrine earlier in the year, few outside Japan took notice. Even given the fact that Abe had made a point of avoiding the cameras, the reactions still seem disproportionate. The first of the two men, after all, is about to step off the political stage and into the history books. The other is almost certain to step onto it this month and become Japan's next prime minister--a job he could hold for years to come.
On Sept. 20, in all likelihood, Abe will be elected president of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party--a victory that will guarantee his election, a few days later, as prime minister...
He's got at least two big goals, and they're both risky. The first is revising the Constitution to eliminate Japan's pacifist postwar military tradition, and the second, which could be a function of the first, is defying China's bid for regional pre-eminence. A generation ago, the first idea would have struck mainstream Japanese voters as irresponsibly radical; the second even now strikes many as fraught with uncertainty.
And in 2013, after the end of Japan's special relationship with the George W. Bush Administration, a global financial crisis and China's surpassing of Japan as the world's second largest economy, Abe Shinzo is still enamored of the same two goals.
Read the whole article: Caryl and Kashiwagi's work has withstood the test of time.