Toh Lam Seng

Professor Emeritus, Ryukoku University

Toh Lam Seng is Professor Emeritus at Japan's Ryukoku University and a China- and Japan-based Singaporean academic. After completing his PhD course at Rikkyo University, he returned to Singapore in 1973, first working as editorial writer and executive editor at Sin Chew Jit Poh, then as editorial writer and Tokyo correspondent at Lianhe Zaobao. He got his PhD from Rikkyo University in 1986 and entered academia in 1989, teaching at Tokyo University and Ryukoku University. He is currently visiting professor at Peking University and director of Xiamen University's Institute of Journalism. He is also author of multiple books covering Japan and East Asia affairs.

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seen on a large screen during a live press conference in Tokyo on 28 August 2020. (Philip Fong/AFP)

Shinzō Abe's second term: Was Abe pro-China? Should the Chinese miss him?

Entering his second term in 2012,  Shinzō Abe immaculately repackaged his image in a bid to shed some of the baggage from his first 2006-2007 term, says academic Toh Lam Seng. But Abe was still the man he was before — a descendant of Nobusuke Kishi, the “Yokai (i.e., monster or goblin) of the Showa era”, and a hawkish politician focused on amending Japan’s peace constitution. There was never a pro-China Abe as portrayed by the media. Now with his younger brother Nobuo Kishi coming into the spotlight in the new Cabinet, it looks like the political bloodline of the “Yokai of the Showa era” will continue on and have an impact on Japan’s policies. 
Japan's prime minister-in-waiting Shinzo Abe (right) smiles with newly appointed Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa (centre) and General Council Chairman Yuya Niwa of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party at a party executive meeting in Tokyo, 25 September 2006. (Toshiyuki Aizawa/File Photo/Reuters)

Shinzō Abe's first term: A princeling's attempt to rewrite World War II history

Looking back on politician Shinzō Abe’s career, academic Toh Lam Seng asserts that the greatest driving force of Abe, the “pampered princeling”, was his maternal grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi. When Abe became prime minister for the first time in 2006, he was preoccupied with changing Japan’s peace constitution and establishing a new take on Japan’s war history that his grandfather was a large part of. Several hawkish policies followed but his single-minded pursuit and unpopular Cabinet soon led to his departure.