Hawkish Shinzo Abe to be named Japan's next prime minister

Shinzo Abe

Shinzo Abe was elected Japan's prime minister by the lower house of parliament today after he swept to power on a hawkish platform of getting tough on diplomacy while fixing the economy.

The powerful lower house named the 58-year-old as the country's new leader following a resounding national election victory for Abe's Liberal Democratic Party earlier this month over the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).

"This chamber decides to name Mr Shinzo Abe as prime minister," said lower house speaker Bunmei Ibuki after the vote.

Lawmakers voted in Abe's favour by 328 votes to 57 for the DPJ's newly chosen leader Banri Kaieda, the industry minister during last year's Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Earlier today, the yen tumbled against the dollar on growing speculation that the Bank of Japan will usher in further easing measures to boost the economy -- a key plank of Abe's campaign.

As Japan's seventh premier in less than seven years, Abe replaces Yoshihiko Noda whose DPJ suffered a stinging defeat at the polls.

The party, which came to power in 2009, was seen as being punished for policy flip-flops and its clumsy handling of last year's atomic disaster at Fukushima.

As expected, Noda's cabinet resigned en masse this morning before the LDP-controlled lower house named Abe as next leader.

Abe, who previously served as prime minister from 2006 to 2007, is expected to form a new cabinet later in the day as he rushes to draft an extra budget to spur the nation's flagging economy.

Japanese media have suggested Abe was likely to tap close associates and senior party members for key posts.

Taro Aso, another former prime minister in Japan's revolving-door political system, was widely expected to be named as both Abe's deputy and also finance minister, the reports said.

New foreign minister was likely to be Fumio Kishida, who served as a state minister in charge of Okinawan affairs during Abe's previous tenure.

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