Shinzo Abe's Assassination And What It Means For Japan | Crooked Media
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July 10, 2022
What A Day
Shinzo Abe's Assassination And What It Means For Japan

In This Episode

  • President Biden signed an executive order on Friday to try to protect access to abortion, but it’s not the solution many reproductive rights advocates were seeking. Then on Saturday, hundreds of demonstrators protested the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade over the weekend in D.C. to pressure Congress to codify abortion-related care into law.
  • Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot and killed on Friday while giving a speech in the Japanese city of Nara. Now, as the country grieves, we look at what his killing means for Japan’s political future.
  • And in headlines: Sri Lanka’s president and prime minister announced their resignations, Steve Bannon told the January 6th House committee that he’s willing to testify, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court outlawed ballot drop boxes.


Show Notes:



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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday, July 11th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.


Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice, and this is What A Day, where we are hoping that BA.5 is the last-ever variant of COVID.


Tre’vell Anderson: In the words of Erica Badu, BA.5 can call Tyrone to help them get its shit and go. Thank you.


Josie Duffy Rice: Look, if that analogy doesn’t end COVID, I have no idea what will actually end COVID. On today’s show, we explain how last week’s assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe influenced the country’s national elections yesterday. Plus, Twitter plans to sue Elon Musk for trying to back out of buying the company.


Tre’vell Anderson: That man is annoying. But first:


[crowd chant] We won’t go back. We won’t go back. We won’t go back. Pro-life is a lie, they don’t care if women die.


Tre’vell Anderson: That is the sound of hundreds of demonstrators over the weekend in DC protesting the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe versus Wade. It was organized by the Women’s March, and part of what they’re hoping will be a, quote, “summer of rage” as folks continue to pressure Congress to codify abortion-related care into law. The protests came a day after President Biden signed an executive order to try to protect access to the procedure.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, so he did that on Friday. Tell us, what does the executive order actually entail?


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, so the order aims to head off potential issues folks seeking abortions might face. It basically formalizes instructions to the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to do whatever is in their power to 1, push back on efforts to limit access to FDA-approved abortion medication, and 2, to protect those who might have to travel across state lines to access clinical services. That includes, but is not limited to reeducating medical providers and insurers about sharing privileged patient information with authorities, and lining up volunteer lawyers to represent people and medical providers navigating state restrictions pro bono. The Executive Order also directs the Federal Trade Commission to work to protect folks’ privacy who may be searching for reproductive care info online or using period tracking apps. There’s also supposed to be a task force created–as you know, the people love task forces over there.


Josie Duffy Rice: They do. They love a task force.


Tre’vell Anderson: The ultimate note here, though, is that the executive order doesn’t really have the teeth many would like to see. But on Friday, during the signing, Biden told the American people that if we want, for example, a national law affirming a woman and person’s right to bodily autonomy, we’ve got to, as they said back in the day on MTV, “Rock the Vote.”


[clip of President Biden] So the choice is clear, if you want to change the circumstance for women and even little girls in this country, please go out and vote! And the challenge from the court to the American women and men, this is a nation, the challenge is go out and vote. For God’s sake, there’s an election in November. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Consider the challenge accepted court.


Josie Duffy Rice: Such a weird thing to say to a whole bunch of people who voted to get this man in office.


Tre’vell Anderson: Well, Democrats do not currently have the votes in Congress to pass a law, so he’s hoping that this fall’s election would add two pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House member to give them the numbers they need. In the meantime, President Biden said Sunday, while on a bike ride near his Delaware Beach home, that his administration is considering declaring a public health emergency for abortion access. Such action would free up federal resources to promote access, but it would likely be challenged in court and might be ineffective nonetheless. And unfortunately, while all of this is being figured out, state laws restricting abortion are still being put in place. As of last Friday, for example, a Louisiana Supreme Court ruling allowed the state’s ban on almost all abortions to go into effect while a lawsuit challenging the law is heard in a new jurisdiction.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, well, I guess that is an excuse, because the party had no idea this was coming so, um . . . Just kidding. They had six weeks’ notice. Feels like we could’ve gotten a plan. Okay, turning now to a big political story overseas: on Friday, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot and killed while giving a stump speech for another politician in the Japanese city of Nara. His murder shocked the nation and the world, especially given the country’s strict gun laws. And now, as the country grieves, the question is what his murder will mean for the future of Japan. Though we don’t know the long-term impact of Abe’s death, the results from the national election held Sunday do give us some indication.


Tre’vell Anderson: Okay. So we’ll talk more about Abe’s death in a moment. But first, Josie, tell us more about the election.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So yesterday, two days after Abe’s death, voters in Japan went to the ballot box to vote in the election for the upper house of Japanese parliament, which is kind of like a very, very general equivalent to our Senate. These elections are held every three years. Half the members of the Upper House are up for election each time. And, while a final count is still in process, it’s clear Abe’s party, called the Liberal Democratic Party or the LDP, is winning handily. According to the New York Times, as of this morning, Japan time, the LDP and Allied parties had, quote, “won 87 seats, giving them more than 70% of the upper house.” And to be clear, the Liberal Democratic Party isn’t akin to our liberal or Democratic Party, right? The LDP is essentially the broad conservative party in Japan. I wouldn’t say they’re exactly like Republicans here, especially given what Republicans are like these days in America, but they espouse a lot of the same supposed values, like smaller government, markets, free enterprise–but the LDP supports raising wages somewhat and has expressed some support for wealth redistribution. Plus, they like science and they believe in vaccines, so they’re not like Marjorie Taylor Greene.


Tre’vell Anderson: You know, the bar is on the floor, but–


Josie Duffy Rice: It is. It is.


Tre’vell Anderson: –I will take it. Hey, get right. So now, did Abe’s death have anything to do with the LDP’s win, given that it was his party?


Josie Duffy Rice: I think the answer is yes and no–or at least that’s what it seems like. So the LDP has been in power a really long time and is by far the most successful political party in Japan, so it’s not like his death was the only reason that the party won, but it may be why it was the party’s quote, “strongest showing since 2013” according to The New York Times. And experts do think his death contributed to voter turnout, which went up from 49% in 2019 to 52% now. There is one way his death may really have had an influence, though, and that’s that the party got enough seats to have a supermajority, meaning two-thirds of parliament, which may allow them to amend their constitution, particularly Article 9 of their constitution, which, according to The New York Times, quote, “Renounces war.”


Tre’vell Anderson: Renounces war.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah!


Tre’vell Anderson: Interesting choice of language there.


Josie Duffy Rice: Right?


Tre’vell Anderson: Tell us, what is this clause and why don’t they want it in the Constitution anymore?


Josie Duffy Rice: So after World War II, American occupiers pushed for this clause in the Constitution, which, according to NPR, basically says that Japan, quote, “cannot use war as a means of settling international disputes.” Hmm. That sounds like, good to me. I’m assuming it sounds good to you.


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes.


Josie Duffy Rice: I think good in theory. And I don’t like, love the idea of renouncing war, but it does worry some people. In particular, it worried Abe, who thought that basically it put Japan at risk of other countries military power, particularly China and North Korea. Though Article 9’s overhaul has never been particularly popular in the country, the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine did seem to lead more people to reconsider whether Article 9 could actually cause problems for Japan, right? Especially when it comes to China. Japan spends a lot less money on defense and security than other similarly-situated countries. It only spends about 1% of GDP annually on those things, which of course is nothing compared to China. But whether or not the Constitution will be amended, and Article 9 change or removed, is yet to be seen, but the fact that LDP has a super majority makes it more likely than before.


Tre’vell Anderson: Gotcha. So now Josie getting back to Shinzo Abe’s assassination, tell us what we know about the shooter.


Josie Duffy Rice: Well, we don’t know much at this point, including his motive. We know his name is Tetsuya Yamagami, that he’s in his early 40s, and other people who knew him said he was a private guy who kept to himself. People described him as, quote, “totally normal”, quote, “mild-mannered”, and quote, “earnest.” According to CNN, he was unemployed, and quote, “told investigators he holds hatred toward a certain group that he thought Abe was linked to.” But we don’t know what that group is quite yet, or it hasn’t been made public. But it’s worth noting that the gun he used was homemade. Japan has very strict gun regulations, and gun violence is extremely, extremely rare. The national police said that last year there was only one gun-related death.


Tre’vell Anderson: Wow.


Josie Duffy Rice: That same year in the US, the Gun Violence Archive recorded over 45,000 gun related deaths here. So, you know, not the same numbers, one versus 45,000. So it’s a lot to go over with Abe’s killing and aftermath, and we’ll tell you more as we know it. But that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads.


[ad break]


Tre’vell Anderson: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines.


[sung] Headlines.


Tre’vell Anderson: Sri Lanka’s president Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe announced on Saturday that they will resign after months of anti-government demonstrations. This comes after protesters stormed both politician’s homes over the weekend and demanded that they remove themselves from office over their mishandling of the country’s worsening economic crisis. Food prices have doubled in recent months due to inflation, leaving many families starving, and the country can no longer afford necessary imports like fuel and medicine because of its foreign debts. Saturday’s protests were just a culmination of the public’s outrage toward President Rajapaksa, that’s been building ever since he took office in 2019. And his resignation brings an end to his family’s 17-year reign over the island nation. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, said on Saturday that he plans to stay in power until a new government is established, but Rajapaksa will officially step down as president on Wednesday. Sri Lanka must now elect a new president and prime minister to satisfy the public’s demands for change.


Josie Duffy Rice: Long time Donald Trump ally, and coconut milk-based tiki drink that curdled in the sun. Steve Bannon told the January 6th House committee yesterday that he’s willing to testify publicly. Bannon’s offer came before his criminal trial next Monday, which is for defying the committee subpoena. But some legal experts question whether Bannon is acting in good faith here. They’ve suggested that this could be a ploy to bolster Bannon’s defense in his criminal case. You know, I wouldn’t call myself a legal expert, but I would also agree that Bannon is never acting in good faith.


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes.


Josie Duffy Rice: Just an assumption. Just a guess.


Tre’vell Anderson: My granny might say that something is not clean in the coconut milk tiki drink that is Steve Bannon.


Josie Duffy Rice: Correct. Correct. In fact, everything is not clean in the coconut milk tiki drink.


Tre’vell Anderson: Genius inventor Elon Musk has made his latest prediction about the future: he said, In it, I will not own Twitter. Musk filed on Friday to back out of the deal that would have seen him by Twitter for $44 billion. He claimed the company lied about how many fake accounts are on its platform. Twitter has already been put through the ringer during this process, as Musk has acted on his every rich-guy whim. The company plans to take the Tesla CEO to court and force him to go through with the deal or potentially make him pay a $1 billion fee to walk away from it. This legal battle could take months, but experts think Twitter has the upper hand, partly because Musk didn’t make many stipulations in his acquisition offer.


Josie Duffy Rice: Brilliant businessman. Just a $1 billion fee. In a huge blow to voting rights, the Wisconsin Supreme Court–one of the worst state Supreme Court in the country–outlawed ballot drop boxes on Friday, just over four weeks ahead of the state’s primary election. The conservative majority court also ruled that no one can return a ballot in person on behalf of another voter. The justices said their decision is based on findings of fraud in the 2020 election–but surprise, such voter fraud didn’t exist. Here’s something that does exist in this battleground state: disability rights’ groups, who say the ruling will make it harder for those who struggle to cast a ballot in person.


Tre’vell Anderson: I don’t know how you make any decision claiming fraud in the 2020 election, when that is literally on trial right now on ABC every other week, but, you know.


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. Just turn the TV on, guys. Just do it.


Tre’vell Anderson: Anyway.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah.


Tre’vell Anderson: Real gun control might be a fantasy, but camera control is already here. Arizona’s Republican governor, Doug Ducey, signed a new bill into law last week that makes it illegal for bystanders to record police officers within eight feet of them during events like arrests and questionings. There are very few exceptions to the rule, of course, and those who appear to be in violation of it will only be warned once before being charged with a misdemeanor. The measure deals a huge blow to advocates of police transparency and accountability, and the law is set to go into effect in September–no bueno. Not good.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. I don’t have anything pithy to say here. But I do think it’s worth noting how scary this is, that Arizona is making it illegal for people to tape the armed agents of the state. These are the people who can arrest you, lock you up and kill you, and they’re making it illegal only during the times that they would be doing those things to tape them. And the only reason the broader public even knows how dangerous they can be is because of cell phone videos. So instead of fixing the police, they’re just saying we’re going to get rid of cellphone videos of the police–which is bananas. It’s bad. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s right to unlimited bread rolls was violated last Wednesday when pro-choice protesters gathered outside the DC Steakhouse where he was eating, and called for him to be kicked out. Kavanaugh had to leave through the back, and he didn’t even get to order dessert, according to Politico–meaning he experienced the same loss of control that he has helped inflict upon so many people, only theirs is 1 billion times worse.


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely.


Josie Duffy Rice: He still got dinner. What’s the big deal? Kavanaugh might not be the last justice to end his meal with an intimate tour of the kitchen. An activist group called to Shut Down D.C. is offering up to $250 to service workers who report sightings of the justices who overturned Roe v. Wade. So if you see something, say something @ at shutdown underscore D.C. on Twitter.


Tre’vell Anderson: This is my type of community organizing, Josie.


Josie Duffy Rice: Totally, I love it.


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. No one should have a peaceful meal, Okay?


Josie Duffy Rice: No. There will be no stead houses, Boo.


Tre’vell Anderson: Get your steak delivered. Thank you very much. And those are the headlines.


Josie Duffy Rice: One more thing before we go: the Supreme Court’s egregious decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has ended the constitutional right to abortion and endangered millions of Americans. You’re angry. We’re angry. Let’s do something about it, from directly supporting patients who need abortions right now to electing pro-choice candidates in 2022 and building a progressive majority over the long term, you can find everything you need to fight back in our Fuck Bans Auction Plan hub at VoteSaveAmerica dot com/roe.


Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave review, enjoy a curdled tiki drink, and tell your friends to listen.


Josie Duffy Rice: And if you are into reading, and not just the deal memo for Elon Musk’s Twitter acquisition, carefully, like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Josie Duffy Rice.


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson.


[together] And never changed BA.5.


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, and by never change we mean disappear and don’t come back.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Just stay how you are, and then go home.


Tre’vell Anderson: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzy Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producer is Leo Duran. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.