10 Things to Know About Shinzo Abe

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Abe is Japan's first prime minister born after World War II.
Abe is Japan's first prime minister born after World War II.

1. SHINZO ABE, 62, WAS elected Japan’s prime minister in December 2012, but he previously held the title from 2006-2007 as well. He stepped down in 2007, citing health reasons. He comes from a political family; his grandfather was a former prime minister and his father was a former foreign minister.

2. Abe is Japan’s first prime minister born after World War II.

3. Abe was the first Japanese prime minister to visit the memorial of the USS Arizona, a battleship on which 1,177 U.S. Marines and sailors died during the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941. He was the fourth prime minister to visit Pearl Harbor, though. In 2015, Abe acknowledged the damage done in WWII but said future Japanese generations shouldn’t have to continue apologizing.

4. Abe was first elected to Japan’s House of Representatives in 1993 and is now the president of the country’s Liberal Democratic Party.

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5. Abe was the first foreign leader to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump in November at Trump Tower. He was also the first foreign leader to visit the U.S. for a multiday series of meetings with Trump. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May met with Trump in January for one day.

6. Japan’s relationship with China is strained by territorial disputes in the East China Sea. During the meeting in Washington, Abe and Trump affirmed part of a U.S.-Japan treaty that recognizes Japan’s administration of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

7. Territorial disputes in the South China Sea have also caused a stir in Southeastern Asia. Under Abe, Japan designated its largest warship as a destroyer and planned to send the ship into the South China Sea as a show of military strength. China claims the rights to much of the disputed waterway despite outcry from VietnamMalaysiathe Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei.

8. North Korea’s launching of ballistic missiles that crashed into the Sea of Japan has also heightened regional tensions for Japan. Abe called the move “extremely dangerous” and has, on past occasions, called North Korea’s advancing weapons system intolerable.

9. Abe was born on Sept. 21, 1954, in Nagato, Japan to Shintaro Abe and Yoko Kishi.

10. Shinzo is married to Akie Abe, and the couple have no children.

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