Shinzo Abe has been elected Prime Minister by Japan’s parliament becoming the country’s youngest leader since World War Two. The 52-year-old is said to be an advocate of closer ties with Washington and a bigger say for Tokyo in world affairs. He faces the challenge of keeping economic reforms on track whilst addressing voter concerns on widening social gaps.
Abe takes over from the rather flamboyant and media savvy Junichiro Koizumi who is said to have groomed him to be his successor. The new prime minister has now nominated his new cabinet. Analysts say that the line-up does not shed that much light on what direction the administration will take.
Foreign minister Taro Aso who shares many of Abe’s conservative views has kept his portfolio. He will likely work on thawing frosty relations with China that have taken a downturn since Koizumi’s pilgrimages to the Yakasuni shrine where Japanese war criminals are revered along with the nation’s war dead.