February 21, 2024

As Japanese election approaches, Shinzo Abe’s legacy on North Korea looms large

Former prime minister championed abduction issue but oversaw deteriorating relations with Pyongyang and Seoul

This week marks one year since Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, stepped down from office. It also comes as the country’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is set to soon decide the future of its leadership — and likely Japan’s next prime minister — ahead of a nationwide general election.

Foreign policy toward North Korea will likely not be an immediate priority. The LDP, however, aims to appoint a leader who can take the party in a long-term sustainable direction, which means it will inevitably need to address Pyongyang at some point.