Shinzo Abe, who died on Friday after being shot in Nara, served two separate terms as Japanese leader for the right-leaning Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)
He first served from 2006 to 2007, then again from 2012 until 2020. His second stint was the longest consecutive term for a Japanese head of government.
Worsening China ties: During his term, Abe sought to improve relations with Beijing, while trying to counter Chinese expansion in the region by uniting Pacific allies.
After leaving office, Abe remained head of the largest faction of the ruling LDP and maintained influence within the party. Last year, he angered China by calling for a greater commitment from allies to defend democracy in Taiwan. In response, Beijing summoned Japan’s ambassador and accused Abe of openly challenging China’s sovereignty.
Spat with South Korea: Tokyo’s ties with Beijing and Seoul also soured during Abe’s time in office. Japan and South Korea were engaged in a major dispute in which trade and military intelligence deals were scrapped, partly due to the legacy of World War II and Japan’s brutal colonization of the Korean Peninsula.
Moving toward the US: Abe was a prominent figure on the world stage, attempting to build a personal relationship with then-US President Donald Trump. He traveled to New York to meet the newly elected Republican President while former President Barack Obama was still in office — Trump’s first meeting with any world leader.
Read Abe’s obituary here.