Shinzo Abe is one of Japan’s most polarizing prime ministers in decades. He may also have a good shot at becoming that rarity in Japanese politics – a long-serving leader.
Whether that proves to be the case depends on whether Abe, who surged back to power 20 months ago for a second shot at Japan’s top job, can temper his conservative ideology with pragmatism and keep his pledges to end two decades of economic stagnation.
Abe’s first term ended when, suffering ill health and facing political deadlock, he quit in 2007 after one troubled year. His focus then was on a controversial agenda that included turning the page on Japan’s wartime past and easing the limits of the pacifist constitution. That agenda failed to resonate with voters worried about jobs and pensions.