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Abe determined to learn from experience in 2nd time at helm

Publication Date : 28-12-2012


Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) President Shinzo Abe has returned to the prime minister's post after a hiatus of five years and three months, putting emphasis on the "safe driving" of the government, supported by a sense of stability in his new Cabinet.

Speaking to reporters after being elected prime minister by both chambers of the Diet on Wednesday, Abe said he would make use of the setbacks he experienced running the government, referring to his resignation in 2007 after only one year as prime minister.

People involved in fields from economic policy to disaster recovery expressed hope that the Abe Cabinet will deal with the nation's pressing issues through its cast of political heavyweights.

"I would like to win the people's confidence by achieving real results as soon as possible," Abe said at a press conference at the Prime Minister's Office on Wednesday night, his first since reassuming the post. Looking relaxed but sombre, Abe talked about his goals at the late-evening press conference.

Looking down at his prepared remarks repeatedly as if to make sure he wouldn't stumble, he stressed he would place priority on results.

Abe said the LDP has not fully regained the trust of the public, and he saw stable government management as his mission.

Abe took a firm tone on security and education, issues he is known for feeling passionately about.

"I will protect people's lives, the nation's territory and our beautiful seas," Abe said. "I will nurture children with world-class academic abilities and a strong sense of morality. We will also foster an attitude of respect toward history and culture."

Abe is the second person since the end of World War II to return as prime minister after once resigning.

His first Cabinet formed six years ago was ridiculed as a "friends Cabinet" composed primarily of close allies. This time, he tapped several political heavyweights, including a former prime minister. Looking back to his former Cabinet at the press conference, Abe said wryly: "I was younger and full of ideals. I was tense and tried to gather people around me who shared my vision."

He said that this time his Cabinet members were chosen based on ability.

Professor Hiroko Ota of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, who was appointed from the private sector to serve as state minister in charge of economic and fiscal policy in the first Abe Cabinet, said Abe has carefully chosen his team from among the options he had available.

"The lineup is different from his first Cabinet, which took over from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi at his peak," Ota said. "I'd like to pay attention not only to the sense of stability the new Cabinet gives, but also to whether the prime minister himself will have the strength to overcome difficulties."

"I hope he will serve his term full this time and achieve economic growth," he said.

Input from local voices

Takumi Nemoto, who assumed the post of state minister for disaster reconstruction, said he wants to have local voices reflected in his efforts to rehabilitate disaster-stricken areas.

Nemoto, who was elected in Fukushima Constituency No 2 in the latest House of Representatives election, was defeated by a Democratic Party of Japan candidate in the 2009 lower house poll.

In the wake of last year's earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, Nemoto worked as a volunteer disaster management adviser in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, from March 20, 2011, until quitting to run for office last month.

Using his experience as a former construction bureaucrat, he helped the city formulate proposals and provided advice during negotiations with central government ministries and agencies.

But with the rebuilding effort frequently mired in delay, Nemoto said he often thought that if he were a lawmaker, he could have made 10 times the contribution to the rehabilitation process. He said his position prevented him from linking his efforts with national policies.

Upon assuming the ministerial post Wednesday, Nemoto told reporters it is the role of the Reconstruction Agency to act in accordance with local voices. "The ability of a state minister is important in making government offices do something more than just coordination," he said.


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