Shinzo Abe returns as Japan PM

International

Shinzo Abe took office as Japan's seventh prime minister in six years Wednesday and vowed to overcome the deep-rooted economic and diplomatic crises facing his country.

Abe was elected as Japan's leader Wednesday, bringing back to power the conservative, pro-business Liberal Democratic Party that governed for most of the post-World War II era. It replaces the liberal-leaning government of the Democratic Party of Japan that lasted three years.

"A strong economy is the source of energy for Japan. Without regaining a strong economy, there is no future for Japan,'' Abe told his first news conference after becoming PM for the second time. He had resigned in 2006-07 citing health reasons.

Calling his administration a "crisis breakthrough Cabinet,'' Abe promised to launch bold economic measures to pull Japan out of deflation. He also vowed to step up an alliance with the United States to stabilise Japan's diplomacy shaken by increasing territorial threats from its neighbors.

The hawkish leader has promised to restore growth to an economy that has been struggling for 20 years. Abe promised to launch bold economic measures, and mobile financial steps and strategies to encourage investment. "We must recover a Japan where hardworking people can feel that there is a better tomorrow,'' he said.

On 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. "Japan's national security faces a clear and present danger,'' Abe said, referring to intensifying territorial disputes around the Japanese seas. "Japan must strengthen the Japan-US alliance,'' Abe said.

Abe appointed a Cabinet of close allies who share his conservative views in key posts. His new Cabinet features another former prime minister, Taro Aso, as finance minister. Heading the foreign ministry is Fumio Kishida, an expert on Okinawa, where many residents upset over crime and overcrowding want a huge reduction in the number of US troops they host . The new defence minister is Itsunori Onodera, who was in Abe's previous administration.

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