Japan’s towering politician and former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe died on Friday, hours after being shot when he was delivering an election campaign.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida termed the attack as a “barbaric, malicious incident” which is “totally intolerable.”
Abe was in the western city of Nara to seek support for a candidate of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) for weekend senate elections.
At least two shots were heard and Abe fell unconscious on the ground. He was bleeding and the gunshot was fired from behind.
The incident took place shortly after Abe started to speak at around 11:30 a.m. local time (0230GMT).
Assailant, 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, a resident of Nara, has been arrested and charged for attempt to murder. The shotgun used in the attack has been seized.
Abe had stepped down from leadership of the LDP due to acute health issues in the fall of 2020.
“I have decided to step down as prime minister as poor health should not lead to wrong political decisions,” Abe announced at the end of October 2020.
“I will continue (my political work),” added Abe, who had led the LDP as the country’s longest-serving premier, besting the previous record of 2,798 days held by his great uncle, Eisaku Sato (1901-1975).
‘Politics demands producing results’
The motto “politics demands producing results” was the hallmark of Abe.
Abe, Japan’s youngest prime minister when he first took office in 2006 at 52 years, underwent serious health complications at the tail end of his political career.
Scion of a political family, his grandfather, Kishi Nobusuke, served Japan as prime minister between 1957 and 1960.
Almunus of Seikei University from where he graduated in 1977, Abe briefly worked at Kobe steel between 1979 and 1982 before putting on political robes.
He joined his father politician Shintaro Abe as secretary.
Following the death of his father, who served as Japan’s foreign minister, Abe plunged into electoral politics in 1993 and was elected to the House of Representatives – the lower house of Japan’s parliament, locally known as Diet.
However, the first jolt to his political career came when he suddenly resigned due to bad ulcerative colitis illness in 2007. He had been in office for just a year – September 2006 to 2007.
It was the same year that his party faced an embarrassing defeat in Diet.
Returns to serve longest-term
Abe made a stunning return to power in 2012, first defeating party rival Shigeru Ishiba in September to retake the LDP helm, and then leading the party to an overwhelming majority that December.
It was again a political milestone – the first Japanese former premier to return to office since Shigeru Yoshida in 1948.
Abe’s second stint as chief executive of Japan since 2012 came with a focus on the economy and pledging to pull Japan out of long-term deflation.
His mantra of “politics demands producing results” started showing results as the Bank of Japan’s “aggressive monetary stimulus program pushed down the yen against other major currencies, and drove up the earnings of big companies and share prices.”
He was re-elected in similar landslides in the 2014 and 2017 elections. His administration, however, did fail to meet its target of 2% annual inflation.
During his last news conference as premier, Abe also touched on Japan’s security concerns.
“North Korea has much capability in ballistic missiles and Japan will have to improve its security capacity,” he said on Oct. 2020.
He will be known for his hawkish stance on China as he had promised to amend Japan’s pacifist Constitution to allow for a full-fledged military.
“Unfortunately, our neighbor (North Korea) has nuclear ambitions and to ensure the security of our country, we need a strong alliance with the US,” he added.
Abe said Japan – the site of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings 75 years ago – would try to be a bridge between countries with nuclear arms and those without.
His term also saw bilateral relations with South Korea reach a new low over the issue of wartime sexual exploitation.
Japan’s major loss under Abe was delaying by a year the world’s biggest sports event – the Olympics 2020 — due to the pandemic
He was seen a major actor in US’ Indo-Pacific strategy that materialized in the security alliance Quad along with Australia and India.
In touch with Muslims
A businessman from Osaka earlier told Anadolu Agency that the 2011 Fukushima tsunami shaped Abe’s view of Muslims in the country.
“Abe visited many relief camps and rescue operations and what he found is Muslims, especially from Pakistan, were everywhere,” said the businessman, who asked not to be named.
Abe was in opposition in 2011.
“The Muslim groups had reached tsunami-affected spots long before government and other Japanese groups reached there,” he added.
After Abe returned as premier in 2012, the businessman said: “His administration constructed Muslim prayer spaces alongside highways and in many airports.”
“Abe was in constant touch with the Muslim community,” he added.
The Abe administration also allotted a specific room for Muslims in the country’s Japanese Language Centers for foreign students and professionals.
“In big restaurants, he asked owners to make Halal [Muslim-approved] food available for Muslims; in the past such developments were rare,” the businessman said.
The major activity Abe undertook as premier with any foreign country during the pandemic in May 2020, when he virtually attended, alongside Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the opening of the Basaksehir Cam and Sakura City Hospitals in Istanbul.
The two countries have enjoyed good relations under Abe, shown by how in 2019 Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun by Japan’s emperor for his efforts to strengthen bilateral relations.
The Politics of Searching a Former President’s Home – The New York Times
Experts on high-wire investigations say that the Justice Department would have carefully weighed the decision to poke around Mar-a-Lago — and that it might want to tell the public why it was necessary.
The F.B.I. does not take a decision like searching the private home of a former president lightly.
As Garrett Graff, the author of a biography of James Comey — the F.B.I. director who oversaw the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server, then went on to run the Russia inquiry before Donald Trump fired him in 2017 — put it, “This was presumably the highest burden of proof that the Justice Department has ever required for a search warrant.”
As a matter of political sensitivity, he said, the Mar-a-Lago search ranked with the subpoena of Richard Nixon’s secret Oval Office tapes and the decision to sample the DNA on Monica Lewinsky’s infamous blue dress to see if it belonged to President Bill Clinton.
Graff noted that the Justice Department’s “fumbling” of several aspects of its investigation of the 2016 Trump campaign and the controversy over its handling of the Clinton email investigation would probably raise the bar for what might prompt such a high-profile step this time around.
Christopher Wray, the director of the F.B.I., Attorney General Merrick Garland and their top deputies would be well aware of the minefields involved — including the possibility, as Trump proved on Monday when he announced the search in a news release, that it would draw the department into the very sort of political maelstrom Garland has sought to avoid.
All of that suggests the investigation is both serious and fairly well advanced.
In May, Garland reissued the department’s traditional guidance on politically sensitive investigations — and he kept the language approved by his predecessor as attorney general, Bill Barr. That move led someone to leak the memo to Rachel Maddow of MSNBC, who criticized Garland for sticking with Barr’s policy.
Former Justice Department officials said the search fell into a gray area, as Trump is not officially a candidate for anything at the moment. The policy, moreover, applies only to the coming midterm elections, not to the 2024 presidential election.
But that’s just the technical, legal side of this move. Politics is another story.
There are a few hints that Trump thinks — with some justification — that the search will help him secure the Republican nomination in 2024. First, he announced it himself. Second, Republicans have already rallied to his side. Third, there’s no sign that any of his putative rivals in the shadow G.O.P. primary are ready to throw him overboard just yet, which suggests that they fear crossing him.
Consider Ted Cruz, who ran against Trump in 2016 and might do so again in 2024. On Tuesday afternoon, Cruz sent a text message to his supporters calling the search “a raw abuse of power.” He also accused the F.B.I. of becoming “the Democrat Party Police Force.” For good measure, he threw in a fund-raising link.
News of the search is probably not helpful to Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, either. She has a tough primary next Tuesday, which she is widely expected to lose. Given Cheney’s role as vice chairwoman of the Jan. 6 committee, it’s likely many G.O.P. base voters will associate her with the F.B.I. search.
As far as we know, however, that would be a mistaken impression; there’s no reason to think the bureau’s investigation has anything to do with Jan. 6, let alone with Cheney herself.
Cheney’s opponent, Harriet Hageman, isn’t worried about the nuances. She tweeted this morning, in a tone that could have been written by the 45th president himself:
If the FBI can treat a former President this way, imagine what they can do to the rest of us. It’s a 2-tiered justice system – one for elites & another for their political enemies. Like sending 87k IRS agents to harass citizens. Or the J6 committee. Political persecution!
Merrick Garland’s Trump dilemma
In February 2021, when Garland testified before the Judiciary Committee ahead of his confirmation vote, he began his remarks by observing that “the president nominates the attorney general to be the lawyer — not for any individual, but for the people of the United States.”
He added, in case anyone didn’t get the message, that he wanted to “reaffirm that the role of the attorney general is to serve the rule of law.”
Behind the Journalism
How Times reporters cover politics.
We rely on our journalists to be independent observers. So while Times staff members may vote, they are not allowed to endorse or campaign for candidates or political causes. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement or giving money to, or raising money for, any political candidate or election cause.
Liberals have complained more or less constantly since Garland took office that he has taken his hands-off approach to an extreme, emphasizing his independence and deliberative approach at the expense of moving with the alacrity many on the left would like to see in an investigation or investigations against Trump.
So there’s an alternate possibility, some former Justice Department officials speculated — that Garland is so concerned about demonstrating just how independent and by-the-book he is that he might have considered it imprudent to tell the F.B.I. not to execute the search just three months before the midterms, at a time when Trump is making noises about running for president a third time.
Then again, modern presidential campaigns never really begin or end, so it’s hard to say when an appropriate moment for such an aggressive investigative step might be.
Ironically, some said that Garland might want to be more transparent about why the search was necessary, to keep Trump from filling the vacuum with his own narrative.
That’s fraught territory, too.
After all, it was Comey’s effort to be transparent — in both announcing the investigation into Clinton during the heat of the 2016 campaign and in updating Congress when the bureau discovered a new trove of emails on Anthony Wiener’s laptop — that made the F.B.I. director such a lightning rod.
Comey, asked to offer his own thoughts on the F.B.I. search, replied in an email: “Thanks for asking but it’s not something I’m interested in talking about.”
Two news conferences, congressional testimony, leaked notes and a tell-all memoir later — now he tells us.
What to read
If Trump illegally removed official records from the White House, would he be barred from future office? Not necessarily. Charlie Savage explains.
A federal appeals court ruled that the House could gain access to Trump’s tax returns, upholding a district court judge’s decision last year.
Is there anything you think we’re missing? Anything you want to see more of? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at email@example.com.
For a new politics of ruralization – Resilience
In this post, I aim to pick up where I left off last time with my review of George Monbiot’s Regenesis, mostly in reference to its theme of urbanism (there’s also a bit of housekeeping and an apology at the end).
But first, since it’s kind of a propos, some brief remarks on the trip I took last week, which involved me bicycling from Frome to Chepstow and back, among other things for an enjoyable in-conversation session with eco-philosopher and activist Rupert Read at the Green Gathering (a recording of most of it is here).
Much of the southern part of my route followed leafy cycle tracks repurposed from disused railways, flanked by large arable fields. Then a ride through central Bristol, swerving to miss a strung-out drug user sprawling on the track, took me onto another leafy cycleway through the Avon Gorge – once a place of heavy industry and shipping, but now far too small for the modern incarnations of those trades.
I crossed the Avon on a bridge I shared with the M5 – the first of several motorways entwining my route. These roads feel calm enough when you’re inside a car, but coming suddenly upon them on my bicycle I was shocked every time by the volume of traffic, its furious speed and sound, and the concrete-intensive brutalism of all this inter-city hurry. A sign by the Prince of Wales Bridge later in my trip reported that 25 million vehicles cross it annually. That’s a lot of kinetic energy to pack into three miles of road.
There were Samaritans telephones on all the major bridges I crossed, with their melancholy signage – “Whatever you’re going through, you don’t have to face it alone”. Back by the Avon, the suburb on the other side of the M5 bridge seemed dilapidated. I swerved around Nos canisters, rode through underpasses scattered with fly-tipped garbage and emblazoned with sinister graffiti and then weaved my way through a giant industrial zone of landfill sites, warehousing, sewage works, construction sites and massive wind turbines.
So, a journey from bosky rural byways that don’t quite conceal their industrial cradling, through mostly salubrious city centres and then rougher suburbs housing their workaday servitors, to the new industrial zones that potentiate them, accompanied by the ever-present roar of vehicles and people moving at speed to sustain it all. And gangs, drugs, loneliness amidst multitudes and suicide. Of course, this is only one way of representing what George Monbiot calls the given distribution of the world’s population, but I dearly wish he and others would question its given-ness a little more sceptically, and weren’t so darned pleased about what they see. During my ride, even in the leafy rural parts, it sometimes felt as if the whole fabric of this corner of southwest England was a kind of dysfunctional, ecocidal, industrial machine, sustained by its rushing human functionaries, with only a thin green veneer here and there concealing it.
Anyway, back to George’s book. So far as I know, he hasn’t seriously engaged with critiques of it from the intellectually more thoughtful end of the spectrum, preferring to post online some of the more fetid threats he’s received, which elicit no small number of ‘Go get ‘em, George’ replies from supporters displaying considerable disdain for rural and agrarian life.
And so another skin-deep culture war, benefitting nobody, judders into life. The case for ruralism over urbanism as I see it is simply that the dynamics of climate, energy, water, soil and political economy are going to propel multitudes of people to the world’s farmable regions sooner or later. The question we should really be addressing globally, though regrettably we’re not, is how to manage that process in the most humane and least disruptive way.
One of the best criticisms of my argument for this agrarian localist future that came my way in the wake of my Regenesis review was that it would be energetically costly to establish it. This, I think, is true. But it’s also true of every other proposal to put humanity on a surer long-term footing. The great advantage of agrarian localism is that once its basic structures are established, its recurrent energy costs can be low. Whereas schemes to preserve the urban-industrial status quo invariably have high recurrent energy costs. This certainly applies to George Monbiot’s farm free future, as Steve showed in his calculations under my previous post.
It’s obvious, really, that a proposal to replace sprawling farmland spaces using free solar radiation to energize production with highly concentrated industrial spaces using electricity transformed from other energy inputs by other human industries probably isn’t going to stack up well energetically. George’s vision of manufactured food, like many other ecomodernist schemes, assumes there will be abundant and cheap clean energy at humanity’s command in the future.
It seems to me more likely that concentrated energy will be scarce and pricey compared to the fossil fuelled bonanza experienced by present generations, and it will make no sense to waste it producing food when free solar energy metabolized by plants can do the job. The diffuseness of this solar energy will be a driving force of human biogeography in the future. Today’s world is one of urban concentration built on a legacy of mining energetic stocks. Tomorrow’s will be mostly one of rural de-concentration oriented to skimming renewable energetic flows.
Presently, there is no broad-based politics geared to this emerging reality, certainly in the richer parts of the world with the longest histories of stock-mining and capital-concentration such as southern England. We’re still stuck with the exhausted legacies of modernist politics, with their emphasis on market signals, nationalist symbols or class struggle as the key to redemption. All of these fix their eyes too firmly on capital cities, government machineries, political centralization and hurried inter-city journeys to build the economy. All of them take as a given the centrifugal relationship between countryside and city that I discuss in Chapter 15 of my book, where the countryside works as a basically inferior servitor to the city, albeit dotted with pleasant islands of retreat for the wealthy who’ve made their money in the latter.
As I’ve already said, I think ‘simple energetics’ or simple biogeography are going to redistribute populations away from urban areas and towards rural ones in the future. In England, the countryside will no longer be largely the preserve of the rich. Like it or not, people of many kinds will go to it to seek prosperity. This creates the potential for people to forge local agrarian autonomies and genuinely agroecological culture. But that’s not a done deal just because of the maths of a more populated countryside. It’s possible that cities and their elites will retain their centrifugal pull.
To prevent that happening requires politics of a kind we don’t yet have – a politics where cities serve the countryside and its inhabitants at least as much as they’re served by them. I indicate this diagrammatically on page 210 of A Small Farm Future (Figure 15.1) and discuss it in the last part of Chapter 15 in terms of rural disruptors to the centrifugal pull of the city – disruptors that build local political and economic autonomy, that extricate themselves as far as possible, which means not totally, from long-distance trade and geopolitically-centred bureaucratic rule.
Since, as I’ve said, there isn’t a mass politics around this at present, I’m currently quite supportive of many kinds of initiative where people put themselves in the disruptor role. I’m supportive of rich people buying houses in the country with big gardens, growing their own vegetables and joining community organisations. I’m supportive of impoverished van dwellers parking up in laybys and trying to minimize their housing costs. I’m supportive of farm shops, independent town councils, guerilla gardening, allotment associations, people buying small plots of farmland or woodland and living in caravans on them while they start market gardens or charcoal businesses, people occupying (considerately) disused or misused land, people trespassing on aristocratic estates to (sustainably) pick edible mushrooms, wealthy smallholders, impoverished peasants, wily farmers and so on and so on.
Eventually, all of this will have to coalesce into a new politics of local autonomy and access to land, which I think will have to be a populist politics of alliance. We’ll get onto that in more detail when I move to discussing the final part of my book in this blog cycle. But just as George’s gloop factories require a substrate or a feedstock in order to ferment their new kinds of food, so we require a substrate or a feedstock in order to ferment new kinds of agrarian localist politics. It’s from the low base of our present politics and of people trying to get by in the countryside that we need to start creating it.
There are genuine grounds to worry that the outcomes of this local political brokerage won’t always be congenial. Perhaps they’re balanced by the equally genuine grounds to worry that centralized national politics no longer offers that certainty either. The liberal-democratic firmament of late 20th century politics has almost gone now. It seems likely that, locally, nationally or globally, nobody will be coming to save us – unless there’s some other iteration of the centralized state that I’ve not foreseen to safeguard against the potential tyranny of localism, without becoming a tyranny itself?
Even so, I think it’s worth taking seriously the downsides of a new politics geared around rural disruptors. At the session I did with Rupert Read, somebody raised the issue of the conformism of rural society and the greater possibilities for finding one’s tribe in urban settings, particularly for people with spiritualities, sexualities or other traits at variance with majority assumptions in conservative countrysides. That’s sometimes been true in the past, though it remains a story of the future that’s yet to be written. But instead of further belabouring my take on this point, I’d be interested to see what other people make of it in the comments below (note that to be sure of getting my attention, comments should be posted under the relevant post at Small Farm Future and not at other sites where this post may be syndicated). I’ll try to formulate some further thoughts in the light of anything that comes back to me.
Finally, and talking of posting comments, I recently noticed there were a few comments that had been sitting in the moderation queue undetected by me – some from long established commenters, and one from a new commenter. Please accept my apologies for the oversight. If you do post a comment that doesn’t appear, feel free to nudge me about it via the Contact Form. On the rare occasions when I actively choose not to publish a comment it will be for a reason, and I will contact you to explain what that reason is. So if you post a comment that doesn’t appear and you don’t hear from me, it’s best to assume simple incompetence on my part and act accordingly (it’s probably best to assume simple incompetence on my part in a wide variety of other circumstances, but let us not digress at this late stage in the post). Also, finally, if you include more than one hyperlink in a comment it will automatically be held for moderation as an anti-spam measure. So reference judiciously…
The extraordinary political storm unleashed by the FBI search of Trump's Florida resort – CNN
(CNN)The FBI search of Donald Trump’s Florida resort is an extraordinary, historic development given that it targeted a former President of the United States and set off a political uproar he could use to stoke his likely 2024 White House bid.
Trump seizes on the search to fire up supporters
A most sensitive decision
Trump faces multiple investigations
Fairfax offering to buy chain that owns Swiss Chalet, Harvey's and The Keg for $1.2B – CBC News
The Politics of Searching a Former President’s Home – The New York Times
Medical Matters Weekly welcomes Director of Institute of Digital Media and Child Development Kris Perry – Vermont Biz
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