When Baron Hiranuma Ki'ichiro resigned as prime minister in the political crisis following the surprise conclusion of the German-Soviet Non-aggression Pact in August 1939, Abe was appointed prime minister. Abe tried to change the course of national policy in the direction of rapprochement with Britain and the United States, but in January 1940, army hard-liners brought about the collapse of the cabinet. Thereafter Abe held diplomatic assignments, including a term as ambassador to the Republic of China (April–December 1940), as a minister of the House of Peers (May 1942–February 1946), and as the last Japanese governor general of Korea (July 1944–September 1945, while retaining his seat in the House of Peers). Abe died in Tokyo on 7 September 1953.
Conroy, Hilary, and Harry Wray, eds. Pearl Harbor Reexamined: Prologue to the Pacific War. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1990.; Morley, James William. The China Quagmire: Japan's Expansion on the Asian Continent, 1933–1941. New York: Columbia University Press, 1943.; Morley, James William. Deterrent Diplomacy: Japan, Germany, and the USSR, 1935–1940. New York: Columbia University Press, 1976.; Shillony, Ben-Ami. Politics and Culture in Wartime Japan. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981.