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How Abe Shinzo’s murder will change Japan

Also: Our favourite summer reads

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July 10th 2022
The Economist today
A Sunday edition of our daily newsletter

Hello from our newsroom,

Joe Biden is not a popular president, and probably the single-biggest drag on his showing in the polls is the high cost of living. Might data released mid-week, showing consumer-price inflation for June, in America, bring him some respite? It’s unlikely. Perhaps, therefore, it’s good timing for Mr Biden that he will be on the road in the coming days. 

He is heading to Israel first. There he’ll meet the new prime minister, Yair Lapid, and is expected to discuss prospects for reviving a nuclear deal with Iran. Mr Lapid, we suspect, will be wary of moving ahead with one. After that, Mr Biden heads to Saudi Arabia, which was long a stalwart ally of America’s but of late has grown more estranged. Were the Saudis to be persuaded to export more oil, enough to help bring down global oil prices further, that could put some welcome pressure on Russia’s economy.

Meanwhile we’ll be considering the aftermath of two big stories that developed late last week. The assassination of Abe Shinzo, as he joined a campaign for upper house elections, has deeply shocked Japan. We judge that Mr Abe was the most consequential prime minister in that country for decades. (Read our early obituary to see why). His absence, and the brutal manner of his death, could also shape Japan’s prospects in the coming years. We have published an analysis of how the country might be affected by this violent act. 

The other story concerns who gets to fill Boris Johnson’s shoes, and when. On Monday afternoon we’ll hear how the Conservative Party will organise its leadership contest. We’ve just published a story looking at how leadership candidates craft their words and arguing why politics should not be seen as a form of entertainment.  Mr Johnson doesn’t understand that. He was also such a toxic failure , everyone wants him gone as soon as possible. Many runners and riders–already nine MPs (perhaps more by the time you open this newsletter)–already say they want the top job. We’ll be tracking their betting odds, and much more, in the coming days.

We’ll also be keeping an eye on Sri Lanka. I once interviewed Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was president until he said he would quit yesterday, in the aftermath of massive protests and the storming of the presidential palace. That was nearly a decade ago, when he was rather popular with ordinary Sri Lankans, because he brought a decisive–though exceptionally bloody–end to the civil war. The grim state of the economy in Sri Lanka will surely stir even more protests.

Last, let me plug our new regular feature—The Economist reads—in which we ask our editors and correspondents to give you a tour of their bookshelves. If you’re are keen to understand the history of western capitalism, our senior economics writer has picked three books (and two academic papers) to get you started. Or how about preparing for the drought and wildfires that, almost certainly, will plague the American West this summer? Our correspondent in Denver has four essential books, and one podcast, to suggest. Look out for others on modern Italy, France, biographies, language and more.

Again, thank you for your own messages and comments. Bill Clark, in Britain, suggests Mr Johnson has lost his job largely because of “left-wing anti-Brexit media based in the South-East” of England. I politely disagree: the man himself is overwhelmingly at fault, and he will be gone after a short stint in office because Conservative MPs feared their own jobs would be lost if he stayed around. In response to my praise of Chicago’s lakeside walks, Colin McMullen argues that Toronto has a better lakefront, while Wolfgang Röhr suggests the Außenalster in Hamburg or the West Lake in Hangzhou are worthy alternatives.  

Please continue to write to me at [email protected], and, on Twitter, you’re most welcome to follow me on @ARobertsjourno.

Adam Roberts
Digital editor

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Inflation in America soars to 8%. Or is it more like 6%?

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Japanese politics

A senseless murder, a landslide election in Japan

Abe Shinzo’s policies will live on, but may be enacted more slowly

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The politician’s most deadly weapon is all-too-often abused


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