December 27, 2012 07:50
Japan's newly elected prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is a long-time conservative politician who has pushed for a more aggressive foreign policy and a greater role for Japan on the world stage.
His stance has appealed to many voters who are concerned that Japan is falling behind China economically and diplomatically.
Abe has called for amending Japan's pacifist post-World War II constitution in order to strengthen the country's military.
He has taken a hard-line stance on North Korea, especially regarding the North Korean abduction of Japanese citizens, and has publicly recognized the need for improved relations with China.
The outspoken nationalist has vowed to defend Japan's control of disputed islands in the East China Sea, known in Japan as Senkaku and in China as Diaoyu. China also lays claim to those islands, which have been a major source of tension between the two Asian powers.
Abe also has promised to restore growth to an economy that has been struggling in recent decades. His election restores power to his pro-business Liberal Democratic Party that has run Japan for most of the post-World War II era.
The 58-year-old Abe, born in Yamaguchi Prefecture, comes from a high-profile political family. His grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, was Japan's prime minister from 1957 to 1960. His father, Shintaro Abe, served as foreign minister from 1982 to 1986.
Shinzo Abe graduated with a degree in political science at Seikei University before studying politics in the U.S. at the University of Southern California. He won his first seat in parliament in 1993 and went on to become a deputy cabinet secretary.
Appointed to the cabinet for the first time in 2005, he was given the high-profile role of chief cabinet secretary.
Abe was elected Japan's prime minister in 2006, but stepped down less than a year later amid declining popularity. He said ill health in the form of inflammatory bowel disease compelled him to step aside.
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