Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe - the country's longest serving prime minister, and the architect of 'Abenomics' - succumbed to his injuries on Friday at the age of 67 after being shot while campaigning for ongoing elections.
He served two distinct times as prime minister, which spanned four terms during which he is also linked to attempting to make amendments to the country's constitution, which has never been amended since it was imposed on the country by the Allies post the Second World War.
He resigned in 2020 due to health concerns, as he was chronically ill with ulcerative colitis.
His influence was seen in India too, as a one of the proponents of the Quad - an umbrella of four democracies, namely India, Japan, the United States and Australia to counter the growing influence of China. His tenure as prime minister also saw investments in India, more prominently the Mumbai to Ahmedabad bullet train project in 2017, which was funded by Japan as a soft loan with low rates of interest.
Citing this relationship, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a day of state mourning for Abe on July 9.
Globally, he is regarded as a statesman and as an able administrator.
Abe first came to power in 2006, after being elected from Japan's Liberal Democratic Party after being appointed as the Chief Cabinet Secretary to the prime minister a year ago. He hailed from a political family, as the son of a former foreign minister, Shintaro Abe, and a grandson of a prime minister, Nobosuke Kishi.
In 2007, his party lost for the first time, and he resigned citing his health reasons.
His second terms started in 2012, marked by the launch of his landmark Abenomics, discussed later in this story,
His third and fourth terms came 2014 onward, until his resignation in 2020.
This is the name given to Japan's three-pronged approach to boost Japan's economy, unveiled by Abe in 2013.
Japan faced many structural problems plaguing it till date: deflation (where prices generally fall, instead of rising), workplaces with rigid cultures, an aging population and a lack of economic growth.
Abenomics unveiled the following three silos to provide an impetus to the economy, which overall aimed to get the economy to 2% inflation to help it grow.
The nonpartisan thinktank, the Council of Foreign Relations, outlines these verticals. The first prong was that of massive government spending, valued at 10.3 trillion yen or $210 billion starting 2013, to revitalize Japanese infrastructure. It saw the building of bridges, tunnels and earthquake resistant roads. Two more stimulus packages followed in 2014.
The second was that of how the central bank outlined monetary policy. The Bank of Japan undertook asset purchasing to infuse money into the economy to generate spending. It also experimented with negative interest rates - charging banks to keep their money with it rather than paying interest on it.
The third silo was that of structural reforms: tax cuts, liberalised labour laws and increased workforce diversity.
Several studies and articles show that Abenomics has been a partial success. For instance, a study in the Asian Economic Policy Review shows that Japan did not achieve 2% inflation as aimed (which it achieved only this year), but it did bolster Japan's economic metrics.
Abe also wanted to amend the Japanese Constitution, imposed on them by the Allies after its defeat in the Second World War.
This remains a contentious issue given public opinion on the topic given its deep-rooted memory of Japan's militant past leading to its pacifist present.
For starters, it bans war, war potential and anything to give it the "right to belligerency" upon Japan. But Abe, a conservative, cited the threats posed by neighbours China and North to make the amendment go through. This requires not only a two-third majority in both Houses of Japan's legislature, but also would be put up to a referendum to the people, according to the Italian Institute for International Political Studies.
Abe first broached the issue in 2006 and 2007, which went against him in the polls, but later in 2012, it worked for him, which helped propel him to power.
In 2015, the Japanese Cabinet allowed the Japanese Self-Defense Force - the name of the Japanese armed forces - to use force in collective self-defense, in a major step up from their days of pacifism.
Quad and India
The 'Quad' existed as an unofficial alliance since 2004, to respond to the Indian Ocean tsunami that affected the region. The alliance, however, was formalised by Abe in 2007 as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.
It was revived in 2017, as then US President Donald Trump saw it as a counterweight to the assertiveness of China, with incumbent President Biden finding value in it too. The Quad had their first meeting in 2021, and earlier this year in Japan.
Further, Abe also set the ball for the bullet train project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad rolling. Abe took part in the groundbreaking ceremony for the service.
Japan is reportedly funding 80% of the project through a soft loan (a credit line, rather than an outright loan), at 0.1% interest with a tenure of 50 years and a moratorium of 15 years if the loan is availed.