#12 Shinzo Abe

Interview with Shinzo Abe

Shinzo Abe the 90th Prime Minister of Japan. After working for Kobe Steel including one year stay in New York as an expatriate, he entered a political world as an executive assistant of his father, Shintaro Abe, who was the Minister of Foreign Affairs at that time. We asked him about his plan on establishing a beautiful country and Japanese virtues that he think Japanese can proud of.l

– How did you lay out a vision of a “Beautiful Country” for your cabinet in 2006 and establish it?

Abe:

I succeeded a position of the Prime Minister from Mr. Junichiro Koizumi, who spoke of the need for a period of painful restructuring in order to revive Japan. Thanks to his efforts, Japan regained power for its growth, but questions were raised among Japanese as to his vision and reasons for making people suffer pains by his reform. Therefore, I showed my vision of the country and proposed reforms that I would work on when I was appointed Prime Minister. Japan is a unique country endowed with distinct four seasons, beautiful nature, long history, tradition, and sophisticated manners. I thought I wanted to create the beautiful country that could be proud of them.

–Six years has passed since then, and is there any change for this vision?

Abe:

Unfortunately, I resigned from the position only a year later, and I still have a lot of things that need to be achieved. I reiterated a 1947 law on the goals of education, because I thought education played an important role to form the beautiful country. The idea itself of the vision of a “Beautiful Country” has not been changed since I was the Prime Minister, and I am currently putting all my effort into the rest of the works that I have not completed as a member of the House of Representatives.

– At which point do you think your vision of the beautiful country is?

Abe:

I cannot exactly say where we are standing because this is a long lasting theme. I would like to form a country that makes people from foreign countries think Japan is a beautiful country as well as Japanese by themselves feel they were from a beautiful country. Continuously working on the vision will help increase the number of such people.

–How did you like your life in New York? And how did this experience affect your work later on?

Abe:

I was working for Kobe Steel at that time. My office is in the city, and I walked to there from my apartment on 40th street and 2nd avenue. I thought the USA was an interesting country to live in when you were young because this country had various aspects, which I noticed through a lot of business trips. New York is a dynamic city with art, economics and so on. I think we need to think of how Japan can take it in.

I only stayed in New York for a year, which was at the end of Carter’s presidency. It was an interesting time because the primary for the 1980 presidential campaign just started. Ted K