On September 26th, Mr. Shinzo Abe, President of the Liberal Democratic Party, was elected to be Japan��s 90th Prime Minister by the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors. He is the youngest individual to have held this post since the end of World War II, and the first to have been born after the war. In the new coalition cabinet of the LDP and the New Komeito, Mr. Yasuhisa Shiozaki has been appointed to the post of Chief Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Taro Aso, remains as Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Speech on national policy and diplomacy
On September 29th, Prime Minister Abe delivered his first policy speech to the House of Representatives. In this speech he emphasized his central vision of ��a beautiful country, Japan��, centering on four key aspects: those of valuing culture, tradition, history, and nature; evolving as a free society which respects discipline and has dignity; possessing the vitality to grow; and gaining trust and respect in the world whilst demonstrating leadership.
Prime Minister Abe also expressed his undaunted determination to keep the torch of reform burning, and he outlined five policy targets: a vital economy, fiscal consolidation and administrative reform, a healthy and safe society, improvements in education, and proactive diplomacy. Referring to diplomacy and national security, he commented that he would make it more evident that the Japan-U.S. Alliance serves for the peace and stability of Asia and the world, and would engage in diplomacy that would actively contribute to strengthen solidarity throughout Asia.
Prime Minister Abe also mentioned that it was essential for Japan and China, and also for Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK), to be able to maintain frank discussions and a future-oriented relationship. He also said that there could be no normalization of relations with North Korea unless the issue of the abductions of Japanese citizens was first resolved. A headquarters on the abduction issue is to be established and will be chaired by the Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Abe��s conversation with Prime Minister Blair
On October 2nd, Prime Minister Blair telephoned Prime Minister Abe to offer his congratulations on his taking office. The two leaders agreed to meet as soon as possible and to develop cooperation on environmental issues such as the post 2012 climate regime. They also expressed their shared view of the importance of Japan-UK cooperation regarding the issues of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Prime Minister Abe��s visit to China
On October 8th, Prime Minister Abe met Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Great Hall of the People, the first visit by a Japanese Prime Minister to Beijing in seven years. The two leaders declared their intention to resume their visits to one another��s countries and to improve the relationship between Japan and China.
At the press conference, Prime Minister Abe stated that he had made China the destination of his first overseas visit as it was one of Japan��s most importamt neighbours, and he desired to build a future-oriented relationship of mutual trust in which views could be exchanged candidly with China��s leaders. He said that he had experienced open-minded discussions with President Hu on the future of Japan and China, and that the two leaders had affirmed that Japan and China shared a responsibility to contribute to the peace and prosperity of both Asia and the world as a whole. They had agreed to set the twin wheels of politics and economics spinning so as to enhance the relationship between their two countries, and enable them to work together to tackle global problems.
The two leaders agreed that a nuclear test by North Korea could not be tolerated and that they would work with other countries to address this issue, including the early resumption of the Six-Party Talks. Concerning resource development in the East China Sea, they agreed to accelerate consultations to make this zone one of peace, friendship, and cooperation. They also agreed to step up cooperation on the reform of the United Nations, East Asian regional issues, as well as areas of common strategic interest such as energy and the environment.