the mandate of the Japanese Shinzo Abe

The country’s longest-serving prime minister resigned in 2020, ending a term littered with headline-grabbing moments, from a turn as Super Mario to a controversial shrine visit that sparked regional anger .

Officials gesture as mourners arrive to attend a private vigil in honor of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Zojoji Temple in Tokyo on July 11, 2022. Photo: AFP.

TOKYO — A private funeral for Japan’s best-known politician, Shinzo Abe, is taking place on Tuesday after he was killed in a shooting at a campaign event last week.

The country’s longest-serving prime minister resigned in 2020, ending a term littered with headline-grabbing moments, from a turn as Super Mario to a controversial shrine visit that sparked regional anger .

Here are some of the most memorable moments from Abe’s tenure.

LINKS WITH TRUMP
Abe has made establishing a close personal relationship with former US President Donald Trump a cornerstone of protecting Japan’s key alliance.

In 2016, he flew to New York to chat with Trump after the US election, becoming the first foreign leader to meet him at his Manhattan skyscraper.

The couple regularly played golf together and Trump was the first head of state to meet Japan’s new emperor.

But there were a lot of awkward moments.

In 2017, a video went viral of Trump nearly wrestling with Abe in a handshake that lasted 19 seconds and ended with the Japanese leader visibly grimacing and looking relieved the encounter was over.

And then there was their 2018 round of golf, when Abe fell backwards into a bunker and Trump walked down the fairway seemingly unconscious.

OLYMPIC GAMES
It was pretty much the last thing anyone expected of Japan’s prime minister, but in 2016 Abe decided to show his commitment to the Olympics in an unusual way – by appearing as video game icon Super Mario. .

He donned the disguise at the Rio Games for the official handover ceremony in Tokyo, appearing to traverse land from Japan to Brazil through digital trickery, before appearing in full costume.

“I wanted to show the world the soft power of Japan,” he told reporters.

BANZAI!
Few political leaders can say their tenure literally meant the end of an era, but in Japan, the abdication of former Emperor Akihito meant the end of the Imperial Heisei era in 2019.

The new Reiwa era began in May 2019, and Emperor Naruhito officially ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne in October in a ceremony steeped in tradition and grandeur.

As prime minister, Abe played a unique role in the transition, pledging in an address to the new monarch that the Japanese people would “respect Your Highness the Emperor as a symbol of statehood and the unity of the Japanese people”.

He then raised his hands three times while shouting the phrase, “Banzai!” or “Long live the Emperor!”

TRIP TO THE SANCTUARY
His tenure has also been marked by less joyful moments, including his 2013 visit to Yasukuni, a shrine that venerates the souls of Japanese war dead, some of whom have been convicted in a US court of war crimes.

The shrine is seen by many in the region as a symbol of Japanese militarism during which much of East Asia and Southeast Asia was subjected to brutal offensives and occupations by several years.

Abe’s visit drew outrage from China and South Korea and even a rebuke from the United States.

He said the trip was not meant to stir up tensions, but he stayed away afterward, only sending ritual offerings in subsequent years.

HIROSHIMA AND PEARL HARBOR
Abe said little about what he thought his legacy would be, but he did cite one particular point of pride: bringing then-US President Barack Obama to Hiroshima in 2016.

Obama became the first sitting US president to visit the site, where he paid tribute to the victims of the world’s first atomic attack but refrained from apologizing for the bombing.

Later that year, the couple made a poignant pilgrimage to Pearl Harbor, the first visit by a sitting Japanese leader to the memorial there, issuing symbolic statements about the power of reconciliation and warning against the drumbeat of conflict.

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