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  • Updated: 5:48pm

Shinzo Abe

Shinzo Abe is president of the Liberal Democratic Party and was elected prime minister of Japan in December 2012. He also served as prime minister in 2006 after being elected by a special session of Japan’s National Diet, but resigned after less than a year.

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vows to build 'a new Japan', keep up defences

Prime minister also pledges to defend the nation and reform the economy

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 January, 2014, 10:28am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 January, 2014, 8:52am

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has issued an assertive call for “building a new Japan” in his new year’s message, vowing to defend territory disputed with China and reform the country’s struggling economy.

“In a world that is deepening its mutual interdependence, inward-focused thinking is no longer able to safeguard the peace of Japan,” he said, according to a transcript released by his office on Wednesday.

“We will fully defend the lives and assets of our nationals as well as our territory, territorial waters, and territorial airspace in a resolute manner,” he said.

His annual message this year is his second since his return to power in December 2012. In last year’s message he pledged to upgrade the defence measures of the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, which are also claimed by China. He did not reiterate the pledge this year.

When planning for a lifetime, there is nothing better than cultivating people.
Shinzo Abe quoting Guan Zhong

Abe suggested, however, that Japan’s pacifist constitution, imposed on the country after the Second World War, should be amended.

“I believe that now we should deepen our national discussions further, with a view to introducing amendments that incorporate various changes in the times,” he wrote.

In a separate New Year comment published in the conservative daily Sankei Shimbun on Wednesday, Abe said he expected the constitution to be revised by 2020, when Tokyo is scheduled to host the Summer Olympics.

Last week, Abe’s administration announced an increase in spending for Japan’s coast guard and the establishment of an amphibious assault unit to deter attacks on the disputed island chain.

On December 26, relations between China and Japan soured further with Abe’s surprise visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo, which honours Japan’s war dead. It was the first visit by a sitting Japanese Premier to the shrine since his predecessor Junichiro Koizumi's visit in 2006.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said his visit to the shrine had “shut the door” to direct talks between the leaders of the world’s second and third-largest economies.

In his new year’s message, Abe compared the economic reform challenges Japan faces with those of the reconstruction period after the Second World War.

Quoting from a saying by the ancient Chinese philosopher Guan Zhong, he pledged “true reforms” and to “convey a tangible feeling of economic recovery without fail to every corner of the country”.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye incidentally used the same Chinese quote - "when planning for a lifetime, there is nothing better than cultivating people" - in a speech during her visit to China in June. 

Abe’s policy of increased monetary easing and fiscal spending is facing an uphill battle as annualized economic growth for the third quarter had to be revised from 1.9 per cent down to 1.1 per cent in December.

Forty-one economists surveyed by the Nikkei Shinbun expected Japan’s economy to grow by 1.4 per cent next year.

Agence France-Presse, Reuters

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kahlil.stultz
Shinzo Abe is a poster boy for how not to go about geo-politics. Unintelligence is a hallmark of Japanese government, but this fellow takes the cake. Insulting four key economic powers (China, South Korea, Vietnam and Singapore) is bad. Threatening two of the world's largest militaries and international security in Asia with make-believe defence moves that are more probable in 1933 then in 2014 is record-breaking idiocy.
I have never had faith in right-wing Japanese political leaders, but from their days of being in cahoots with Apartheid South Africa to their current delusions of grandeur about ancient militarism (which led to millions of Japanese dead), I can safely say that the LDP cannot confidently go about national foreign policy competently.
I fear that the prophecies of former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew are correct: Japan is doomed to become a mediocre country in the future and with all this saber-rattling and chest puffing in the midst of anemic economic growth, high levels of national debt and an aging population. Japan being the sick man of Asia, and Shinzo Abe as well as the LDP are in no small part the cancer.
andreaswagner
Good that Japan finally seems to wake up. With rogue states like China and North Korea as neighbours, only a strong defence will ensure the safety of Japan.
ennoun
Hopefully there will not be a war between Japan and China. If it were to happen, Japan, with its numerous SE Asia and NE Asia allies would walk all mover China and once again, China would find itself not only contained even more, but likely occupied. China does not seem to have many friends in the area, except for North Korea. Let;s keep our fingers crossed such a costly war will never happen.
kahlil.stultz
Like who?
Singapore? No way, they wouldn't dare go to war with a close economic partner. The Switzerland of Asia is just that - a peaceful financial center.
Vietnam? They don't love China but they know better than believing a conman's hustle. They don't even have a good military.
Indonesia? No way.
South Korea? No way. Not being friends with China doesn't equal being friends with Japan and the Korean people would not stomach sending their sons to fight for former colonizers and brutalizers (some of whom are enshrined in Yasukuni)
China may not have many friends but Japan only has the lip service of the US, and with the way things are going in the states, the idea of American boys dying for Japan would not be something any sane politician would think about it.
Japan has no cards to play.

daily
Japan has only one direction to go from here and it is downward..........it will continue to spiral down for decades to come............get this quote Abe?
onedistrict
With a declining population, a solution may be to import labour, perhaps from The Philippines
Hollander323
Against the present political background and the mentality of the politicians of Japan, to the people of the neighbouring countries of Japan, this only means scary!
Camel
A new imperialistic Japan? They have never learned and will end in the same way they did before. Japan, with its small fragile island is doomed to cease from existence if they go ahead like this.
Half of their island is radioactive contaminated by own hands, the other half they will lose in a war with China.
lexishk
Where did he say anything "imperialistic"?
singleline
By reading David Copperfield, you'll know how well the child labour was 'cultivated.'
Charles Dickens was writing his own experiences.

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