Richard Lloyd Parry, Asia editor of The Times and author of several very good books in his own right, reviewed The Iconoclast on 5 September.
The coronavirus pandemic has done for Japan’s modest economic recovery and doomed the Tokyo Olympics that were to have been his moment of political rapture. However, Abe’s failures go back further and deeper than that, as this biography reveals, almost despite itself. Tobias Harris begins with a hagiographic salute to a heroic figure who has “broken taboos, shattered constraints, and thrust Japan back into power politics”. In exhaustive detail, he describes a career of setbacks, half-successes and frustrated ambitions. The hastily tacked-on post-Covid afterword portrays an “exhausted” leader, with plummeting public support, whose “tenuous” achievements are eclipsed by political scandals as well as a pandemic. And this was before last month’s mysterious hospital visits, unconvincing reassurances, sudden acknowledgment of chronic illness and resignation.
The review is available here, although it is behind a paywall.