TOKYO (Reuters) - Ex-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was elected as leader of the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on Wednesday, putting him in a pivotal position to become the next premier after a general election expected within months.
Below are some key facts about the 58-year-old lawmaker.
--Abe has been most vocal of the three LDP candidates in urging Tokyo take a tougher line in its territorial dispute with China. He has long called for Japan to revise its post-World War Two pacifist constitution to ease restrictions on using the military and strengthening the alliance with the United States.
-- Abe has said that history, not politicians, should judge the past and belongs to a conservative school of thought that believes Japan has apologised enough for past misdeeds. He seeks revision of a 1993 government statement on “comfort women” in which Japan admitted military involvement in forcing women into sexual slavery at wartime brothels and apologised for it. He has also suggested the need to replace a historic 1995 statement by then-prime minister Tomiichi Murayama apologising for suffering caused by Japan’s wartime aggression.
-- Abe, who took office as Japan’s youngest post-World War Two prime minister in September 2006, quit abruptly after a year in power dogged by scandals, a rout in an upper house election and a crisis over Japan’s support for U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan. He cited ill health as the reason.
-- Despite his hawkish stance, Abe took a big step toward repairing Sino-Japanese ties, which had frayed during his predecessor Junichiro Koizumi’s five years in office, in part because of Koizumi’s annual visits to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine for war dead. Abe’s first visit abroad after taking office was to China.
-- Abe is a grandson of Nobusuke Kishi, a wartime cabinet member who was convicted as a war criminal by an Allied tribunal after World War Two, but later became prime minister. As premier, Abe pledged to create a “Beautiful Country” that was proud of its past, respected abroad, and played a bigger global security role.
-- A vocal critic of the Bank of Japan, Abe is expected to pile pressure on the central bank to ease monetary policy further. He has called for revising the BOJ law to give the government more room to influence monetary policy, and urge it to take bolder action to beat deflation.
-- Abe, who served as chief cabinet secretary under Koizumi, gained popularity at the time for taking a tough stance toward North Korea on the emotive issue of Japanese citizens abducted by Pyongyang decades ago.
-- Abe has criticised the government’s target of exiting nuclear power in the 2030s, saying it would force Japanese firms to move production overseas in search of stable power supplies.
Reporting by Linda Sieg and Leika Kihara; Editing by Ron Popeski