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The Japan that Abe Shinzo made

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The Japan that Abe Shinzo made

The most important prime minister in half a century changed the country in three big ways.

Noah Smith,

5 min read
3 take-aways
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What's inside?

Former prime minister Shinzo Abe changed the face of Japan.

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  • Analytical
  • Overview
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Shinzo Abe’s reforms have reshaped Japan, notes economics writer Noah Smith in this illuminating essay published shortly before Abe’s death. The nation’s labor force is welcoming more women, its military is emerging from its pacifist slumber to ally with regional powers, and its demographic makeup is becoming more diverse, as immigration policies promote the hiring of skilled employees from abroad and fast-track their path to permanent residency. Japan is slowly becoming multicultural, largely due to Abenomics and Abe’s social reforms that have helped Japan become both more relevant and resilient.


Shinzo Abe transformed a country that had been in dire straits since the early 1990s.

In 2012, Japan was in disarray. More than 20 years after a decline in property and financial markets, GDP growth had never fully recovered. Productivity was sluggish. Demographic trends pointed to a declining and aging Japan. Corporate national champions were losing global market share. The tsunami of 2011 had wreaked havoc, killing thousands and unleashing a nuclear disaster.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s program, dubbed “Abenomics,” turned the economy around, while other reforms set Japan on a ...

About the Author

Noah Smith is a financial journalist, and he writes on matters of geopolitics and economics in his blog Noahpinion.

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