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Former Prime Minister Abe’s Memoir to Be Released Feb. 8

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Cover of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s memoir

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s memoir “Abe Shinzo: Kaikoroku,” in which he reflects on his long second administration, will go on sale Feb. 8. The book recounts firsthand the workings of his second administration, which spanned seven years and nine months, the longest administration for any prime minister in Japan’s history, as well as behind-the-scenes details of his diplomatic activities.

Goro Hashimoto, senior columnist at The Yomiuri Shimbun, and Hiroshi Oyama, vice chairman of The Yomiuri Shimbun’s editorial board, interviewed Abe for the book, with editorial supervision provided by Shigeru Kitamura, who served in Abe’s Cabinet as secretary general of the National Security Secretariat and in other key positions. The interviews were conducted over a year in 18 sessions, lasting 36 hours total and beginning in October 2020, one month after Abe stepped down as prime minister.

Abe assumed chairmanship of the so-called Abe faction of the Liberal Democratic Party in November 2021. The memoir was scheduled for publication early last year, but its release was postponed at Abe’s request due to its highly sensitive content. Following Abe’s death in a shooting incident last July, a decision was made to publish with the consent of his wife, Akie.

In his memoir, Abe speaks candidly about his feelings at the critical junctures of his administration. Regarding the dissolution of the House of Representatives in November 2014, Abe recalled that he had “no choice but to dissolve it in order to silence the tax hike advocates.” Abe said the dissolution was the result of a difficult decision on whether to postpone the October 2015 hike in the consumption tax rate to 10%. “The Finance Ministry, which is in charge of budgeting, is a powerful force. They will not hesitate to overthrow an administration that does not follow their wishes,” he said, not hiding his wariness of the ministry.

Many foreign leaders also make an appearance in the memoir, including former U.S. President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Trump, who was viewed as belligerent, was in fact reluctant to take military action. Abe revealed an episode in which he and the U.S. government “tried desperately to keep their true nature hidden,” because if North Korea became aware of U.S. passivity, the two partners would not be able to exert pressure on the dictatorship.

The 480-page memoir will be published by Chuokoron-Shinsha, Inc. for ¥ 1,980 including tax.