Veteran Shinzo Abe returns as Japan's leader
New administration faces souring relations with China
Wednesday 26 December 2012
Old-guard veteran Shinzo Abe was voted back into office as prime minister of Japan today and immediately named a new cabinet, ending three years of liberal administrations and restoring power to his conservative, pro-big-business party that has run the country for most of the post-Second World War era.
Abe, whose nationalist positions have in the past angered Japan's neighbours, is the country's seventh prime minister in just over six years. He was also prime minister in 2006-2007 before resigning for health reasons that he says are no longer an issue.
The outspoken and often hawkish leader has promised to restore growth to an economy that has been struggling for 20 years. His new administration also faces souring relations with China and a complex debate over whether resource-poor Japan should wean itself off nuclear energy after last year's earthquake and tsunami caused a meltdown at an atomic power plant.
On top of that, he will have to win over a public that gave his party a lukewarm mandate in elections on December 16, along with keeping at bay a still-powerful opposition in parliament. Though his party and its Buddhist-backed coalition partner is the biggest bloc in the more influential lower house, Abe actually came up short in the first round of voting in the upper house, then won in a runoff.
Capitalising on voter discontent with the left-leaning Democratic Party of Japan, Abe has vowed to shore up the economy, deal with a swelling national debt and come up with a fresh recovery plan following last year's tsunami disaster, which set off the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.
"Disaster reconstruction and economic recovery are our first and foremost tasks," new chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said in announcing what he called a "crisis breakthrough cabinet".
In foreign policy, Abe has stressed his desire to make Japan a bigger player on the world stage, a stance that has resonated with many voters who are concerned that their nation is taking a back seat economically and diplomatically to China.
He has said he will support a reinterpretation of Japan's pacifist post-war constitution to loosen the reins on the military, stand up to Beijing over a continuing territorial dispute and strengthen Tokyo's security alliance with Washington. Beijing has already warned him to tread carefully, and will be watching closely to see if he tones down his positions now that he is in office.
Abe led the Liberal Democratic Party to victory in nationwide elections this month to cement his second term as Japan's leader.
"I feel as fresh as the clear sky today," Abe told reporters before today's parliamentary vote, adding that he wanted to get right down to business.
His new Cabinet will feature another former prime minister, Taro Aso, as finance minister. Heading the foreign ministry is Fumio Kishida, an expert on the southern island of Okinawa, where many residents angry over crime and overcrowding want a big reduction in the number of US troops they host - now at about 20,000. The new defence minister is Itsunori Onodera, who was in Abe's previous administration.
Geoffrey Macnab reviews The Desolation of Smaug - the meat in Peter Jackson's Hobbit sandwich
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Idris Elba get nods for Best Actor, which no black Brit has ever won
voicesJust when you thought you could find a man, get married, and have a baby by the age of 35... it turns out you’re too late, says Grace Dent
Swedish stars ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ sign language interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
French café starts charging extra to rude customers
Australia: Gay marriage law reversed by high court less than a week after first weddings
Church versus state: Scientology faces unholy war after court ruling
Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ sign language interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 3 Australia: Gay marriage law reversed by high court less than a week after first weddings
- 4 Not all right on the night
- 5 Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- < Previous
- Next >
£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Boutique Practice...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher York.(Full-tim...
£62000 Per Annum plus benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client ba...
£70 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Group: Cover SupervisorImmediate startLo...