It was perhaps written in the stars that former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would improve his country's relations with the world given that his father was a former foreign minister and his grandfather was a former Prime Minister.
But through destiny or deft diplomacy, he made a strong relationship with New Zealand even stronger, as current Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and former Prime Minister John Key acknowledge from their dealings with the transformative leader.
And as former ambassador to Japan, Maarten Wevers told the Herald how Abe has changed the way Japan engages with world and how the world now sees Japan.
Abe stepped down because of ill health, a year before his term was due to end, and having served as Japan's longest-serving Prime Minister in two stints, for a year in 2006 and for eight years since 2012.
His successor, former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, is expected to formally become Prime Minister on Wednesday and has pledged to use Abe's experience in foreign relations.
Abe's leadership in taking a highly protectionist country into the Trans Pacific Partnership, and keeping the TPP on life-support after the United States withdrew in 2017 is what he is best known for in the New Zealand government.
After Ardern was sworn in as Prime Minister, Abe was among the first leaders she met - at Apec in Danang, Vietnam.
After expressing condolences about her cat Paddles having been run over, Abe and Ardern bonded over the trials of the TPP in Danang.
The deal was supposed to be sealed in a meeting of 11 leaders chaired by Abe but after the Canadians failed to show up, it was delayed by about four months.
But it was a solid foundation for continued engagement and contact, including Ardern's visit to Japan in September last year at the start of the hugely successful Rugby World Cup, where the Brave Blossoms won admiration.
"Prime Minister Abe struck me as a person of great integrity," said Ardern after he announced his early exit last month.
"He has led by example and showed what hard work, passion and care for others can achieve," she said.
"Japan is one of New Zealand's closest friends in the region," said Ardern, who studied Japanese at school in Morrinsville and hosted a Japanese student.
She also paid tribute to his leadership in getting the TPP across the line, or as it was renamed, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership.
Key said he had been "very nervous" when US President Barack Obama had invited Japan in 2013 to join the TPP talks, along with Canada and Mexico.
"In the case of both Japan and Canada, they had been always historically very difficult to deal with when it came to free trade and I thought they would hold the process back," he told the Herald.
"As it turned out, in my opinion Abe not only didn't hold the process back but he actually advanced the whole completion of TPP.
He recalls chairing a meeting of the TPP leaders at an Apec summit, in Bali, when some of the leaders were sounding as though they were wanting to back from the trade talks, and Abe stepped in.
"He just did this intervention when he said 'look we have to be bold, we have to do the right thing – of course there will be challenges for the system and the bureaucracy but in the end it's the right thing to do'.
"It is easy to say that when it comes to trade," said Key. "Lots of countries say it but don't truthfully deliver. But he genuinely did.
"He was impressive in lots of ways but he was impressive because what he said, he actually did."
Key also acknowledged the reforms and deregulation undertaken by Abe to address years of deflation and stimulate the economy – reforms known as Abenomics.
"It is a very strong relationship with Japan. Probably the only fly in the ointment has been around whaling," said Key.
"I always got the impression with whaling that it was more an issue of loss of face than a serious desire actually to catch whales," said Key.
Despite territorial disputes with China, Abe established a reasonable relationship with China – he visited Beijing in 2018 and was due to host Xi Jinping this year; he was one of the first leaders to establish a good relationship with the unpredictable US president Donald Trump; he engaged more with India, he concluded a free trade deal with the European Union and last week, Japan was the first country to strike a post-Brexit trade deal with Britain.
Wevers, who is also fluent in Japanese, said Abe had been very active on the foreign policy front which was unusual for Japanese politicians at the leadership level.
"He has given them much more confidence and they are seen now as a much more engaged and normal and confident player on the international stage and that is a big legacy."
Tourism has been really pushed under Abe and Japan had hosted "a fabulously successful Rugby World Cup", Wevers said.
"He has changed the way the Japanese engage with the world and how people see Japan.
"It is quite a high, high bar for his successor to live up to in my view."