Abe was born on March 7, 1924 in Kita, Tokyo, Japan and grew up in Mukden (now Shenyang) in Manchuria.
Abe's family was in Tokyo at the time due to his father's year of medical research in Tokyo. His mother had been raised in Hokkaido, while he experienced childhood in Manchuria. This triplicate assignment of origin was influential to Abe, who told Nancy Shields in a 1978 interview, "I am essentially a man without a hometown.
This may be what lies behind the 'hometown phobia' that runs in the depth of my feelings. All things that are valued for their stability offend me.