I have dark forebodings about Abe Shinzo who will very likely be the next PM of Japan on Sept. 20, thanks to Koizumi's support. Shinzo is a neo-nationalist who seek to rewrite history as well as the Constitution of Japan, erasing shameful past and removing barriers to imperial ambitions.
What will the man behind most of the recent conflicts between Japan and its neighbors do when he becomes shogun? I am expecting conflicts of ambitions and emotions, peace and violence, capitalism and nationalism.
In short, expect far east to compete with middle east for frontpage news while Shinzo is in power.
Some background on Shinzo:
Meiji Restoration was lead by samurais from Choshu (Yamaguchi prefacture) and Satsuma. After they wrestled power from shogun, they put their expansionist ideals into full throttle. The emperor was just a figurehead used to ruled the country. Events unfolded from there that lead to the Second World War.
Shinzo and his father shares the word 'shin' in their names, apparently to pay respect to Takasugi Shinsaku, a hero of the Meiji Restoration. Takasugi Shinsaku's teacher is Yoshida Shoin whom Shinzo admires enough to quote often. Yoshida Shoin was a key expansionist whose ideals such as 'management' of Korea and Manchu and 'control' of China gave birth to expansion efforts spanning Meiji period and beyond.
Choshu contains Shinzo's political district 'given' to him by his father. Nobusuke Kishi, his grandfather from the mother-side, is also from Choshu. Kishi was PM from 1958-60 despite having been imprisoned as a Class A war criminal.
Is Shinzo a free spirit moderate or a closet expansionist? Whether your answer differs from mine or not, I think I have some justifications for having bad forebodings. If he is independent of his background, he shouldn't have built his house on it. He should have refused his father's district but he did and, IMHO, you can't just reap benefits from political background without being influenced.