Japan appears poised for a new era with the expectation that Shinzo Abe, will become its new prime minister. He has been overwhelmingly elected leader of the ruling Liberal Democrat party and it is widely anticipated he will be chosen to replace outgoing Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in a parliamentary vote next week. Abe, who will become Japan’s first prime minister born after World War Two, has pledged to rewrite Japan’s pacifist constitution.
He has also promised put more patriotism into Japanese classrooms. And the 51-year-old has indicated seeking better relations with China and South Korea. They have been strained by Koizumi’s visits to a shrine honouring Japan’s war dead. But it is the proposed changes to the constitution which could have the profoundest impact on the country. Abe is expected to push for further revision of existing legislation to give the military more freedom of action and bolster the security alliance with the US.
It is thought unlikely, however, that he will adopt Koizumi’s combative approach in forging ahead with economic reforms and so far he has given few details of how he will handle Japan’s bulging public debt.