Japanese Parliament on Wednesday handed the prime ministry over to Shinzo Abe, who said that fixing the economy is Japan’s no. 1 priority.
Abe, who was widely expected to become the conservative Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) choice, was prime minister in 2006 and 2007 before he abruptly resigned. He is replacing Yoshihiko Noda of the liberal-leaning Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).
This time around, however, Abe, an outspoken and pro-nationalist leader, said he will use his second chance as premier to revive Japan’s economy from its current downtrodden state.
“I got up today with a fresh feeling,” Abe, 58, said Wednesday morning, according to the Kyodo news agency. “By drawing on my experience of heading a government, I’d like to run my new government in a stable manner.”
On Wednesday, Abe edged closer to finally forming his Cabinet and, according to the Daily Yomiuri newspaper, is choosing members of his government carefully.
“I want people who are confident enough to say ‘Please, listen to my answers,’” Abe reportedly said, according to the Yomiuri. He was referring to the defense and foreign ministry appointments.
When he was head of state five years ago, Abe apparently suffered health problems caused by exhaustion due to scandals and poorly conceived comments made by members of his old Cabinet.
In his first news conference, Abe brushed off criticism against both the now-ruling LDP and the opposition DPJ, saying that the economy is now a priority.
“The current problems and crises we face will not be solved by looking back and criticizing the previous government,” Abe said, according to Kyodo. “A country that gives up on economic growth will have no future. We will make decisions and implement accurate policies to achieve that growth, aiming for a bright future together with the people.”
The LDP has ruled Japan during most of the years since World War II and replaces the DPJ, which lasted around three years.
Abe has also said that he would defend Japanese interests in the region, particularly against the Chinese regime, which has laid claim to the small Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. Tensions between the first and second largest economies in the region have escalated this year over the islands, with China repeatedly sending ships and planes near them.
“China is challenging the fact that (the islands) are Japan’s inherent territory,” Abe said just over a week ago. “Our objective is to stop the challenge,” he said.
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