Shinzo Abe returns as Japanese PM after snap election

Posted By: PTI
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Tokyo, Dec 24: Japan's parliament on Wednesday confirmed Shinzo Abe for another term as prime minister after his election triumph, but the return to power stirred warnings from China over a bid to change the pacifist constitution.

The lower house voted overwhelmingly for 60-year-old Abe with 328 votes against 73 for acting opposition leader Katsuya Okada. That was followed by an upper house poll which officially confirmed Abe as premier.


His new cabinet was largely unchanged with Taro Aso returning as deputy premier and finance minister, Fumio Kishida as foreign minister and Yoichi Miyazawa in the industry minister post. Industry is a key portfolio that oversees Japan's nuclear power sector, as Abe looks to restart more atomic reactors shuttered after the 2011 crisis at the Fukushima plant.

The only new face was Gen Nakatani, replacing Akinori Eto as defence minister after Eto declined reappointment in the midst of a political funding scandal. Nakatani, 57, headed the defence agency - later upgraded to a government ministry - in 2001-2002.

"The environment surrounding Japan has been drastically changing, so I was told to prepare security legislation to enable seamless responses," Nakatani said at the prime minister's office, quoted by Kyodo News.

On top of trying to kickstart the world's number three economy, Abe has vowed to pursue a nationalist agenda, including persuading a sceptical public of the need to revise the pacifist constitution. But efforts to alter the charter, imposed by the US after the end of World War II, have proved divisive at home and strained already tense relations with China.

"Abe and his new defence minister... need to tread carefully," China's official Xinhua news agency said today.

"The two both advocate a stronger role for Japan's Self-Defense Forces, and the international community should keep a wary eye on them and constantly remind them not to go too far."

Relations, however, have begun to thaw after a more than two-year chill that Beijing blamed partly on Abe's provocative nationalism, including a visit to a controversial war shrine, and equivocations on Japan's wartime record of enslaving women for sex.

Abe is to speak to reporters before holding his new government's first cabinet meeting, said Yoshihide Suga, the Chief Cabinet Secretary who is Tokyo's top spokesman. 


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