Listen: Shinzo Abe Becomes Japan’s Longest-Serving Prime Minister
"Shinzo our prime. My Minister of Japan will today be celebrating. What would have seemed a decade or so back an unlikely milestone? He is now the longest serving prime minister. In Japan's history is brief stint from two thousand six to two thousand seven added to the longest stretch has enjoyed since two thousand twelve has overhauled the benchmark set by. Juke Cuts Toro three times. Prime Minister of a very different Japan in the early years of the twentieth century. Nobody serves as long as a house without tapping into something in their electorate. So in our base case Wat- one joined with more on this Spicer David Warren Former UK ambassador to Japan now Associate Fellow with the Asia Pacific Program At Chatham House David thank you for joining us rb. Does he have a particular singular secret. Is there one thing about him which is got into where he's got to and kept him there i. It's hard to say that he does although he's clearly a competent politician in Japanese terms. And he's come to the premiership of Japan of course after a period of intense political volatility extending over decades in Japanese politics. Prime Minister for the most part have come and gone and there's genuine public Cynicism and discontent with the fragile nature of Jap the Japanese politics so in a sense he benefited from having come after a period of great great Great Tab instability and he benefited also from having a very weak opposition during this period because the opposition party which was in government government three years between two thousand nine and two thousand twelve when it was cold. Democratic Party of Japan has been itself Rhythm With factions and essentially all over the place in terms of being able to land any punches on the Liberal Democratic Party government. So you haven't any competition in the end. He hasn't much competition from outside the party. And he's given the Japanese people a sense of stability which I think they have respected. So you wouldn't say there's an RB ISM as such. There is not a philosophical cornerstone to him philosophical cornerstone to him. But I'm not certain. It's one shared by the Jersey of Japanese people originally from the nationalist wing of the Liberal Democratic Party Much of his Political philosophy is good on. We habilitation his grandfather who was prime minister of Japan in the nineteen fifties and had a very problematical record in the nineteen thirties and forties during Japan's occupation career and four in China. And he has a nationalist. I think wants to both rehabilitate Prime Minister Kitchen. Gran- grandfather's father's mutation and also to turn the page so to speak on Japan's problematic history in ways. which do not necessitate? The next generation of Japanese need having to grapple as much with the the difficult politics of apology that other innovations have had to do But that nationalism is ten uh-huh by a political pragmatism of the recognition that He needs to fix the Japanese economy. Most Japanese voices are more worried about economic issues the constitutional nationally issues and that. Whatever obeys nationalist impulse maybe he needs to ventilate them in ways which staint disturb Japan's regional neighbours particularly China and Korea He had a very different sense of twentieth century. History in in that regard with China. He's got the relationship back onto something more of an even Keel career. It's much more difficult than well. How successful do you think he has been the not very by the sound of it? IN-IN addressing those difficult relationships with its neighbors in the region often overhung as they are by a history of world war. Two Cudi of done more. Well he's been successful with China. I think it's fair to say you inherited a difficult situation with China in in two thousand twelve when he became prime minister. The previous government nationalized the disputed islands in the East China Sea. which had alienated the Chinese Government and lead to a serious deterioration in the relationship nationalism. In the sense to prevent extreme nationalist getting the hands on them relations the China very very difficult and after initial period of tension. In which are they Like some of his predecessors as prime minister visited controversial Ashley yesterday shrine intake I they has invested considerable effort in establishing more of a relationship with Xi Jinping and getting the relationship back onto who Something more bridging equilibrium. Now there is talk. All Xi Jinping making a state visit to Japan in the spring of Twenty Twenty strong stronger relationships at every level of the Japanese and Chinese governments and there is a serious dialogue not least east because both countries face unpredictable. US Administration This time so the record with China is best and Eve. When I was prime minister in the decade he bested lots of time in improving relations with China to the situation with career is much harder because There is both Business over disputed history particularly on the Korean side and the sense on the Japanese side. The taught to know how to deal with careers concerns the Japanese. This was all settled. Many years ago with extensive reparations agreement that the issue was closed is they are resentful of the Koreans now reopening these historical issues so while I think there is some legitimate criticism of days. Playing the the nationalist card in in in this area there is also the sense Career is is is stay with him to negotiate during your time says Ambassador to Japan. What sense were you able to get all obeys personal style? What what what is he like to deal with as an individual when I wasn't I'm bachelor at the time. When I was in power? He was in power for a year in the mid noughties when he succeeded Prime Minister Junichiro. Well he's only and that was a very unsuccessful time any wasn't well and there were scandals which produced the effectiveness of these government and the U. banned last year? He became prime minister. Game Justin I left Japan at the end of my ambassadorship in twenty twelve. So what do I met him Briefly socially really and observed him as one of a number of leaders of the opposition during that very very febrile terriers. I didn't his His style-obsessed hand but he is certainly Powerful politician he's centralizing politician. He's established strong central control throw of the mechanisms of government of the appointment of key personnel. he is a strong leader in those terms Some in Japan would argue that he is too strong a leader that he centralize too much that he creates a political. Is it gonNA spread by. People are reluctant to step out of line into sagres with what comes out of the center out of the Prime Minister's office that can lead to strong and stable government not one respect it can also lead to Mistakes accounting if they have in certain areas of policy where civil servants have told politicians what they want to hear other than in the objective and and practical advice."