• Kyodo


In his New Year’s address Tuesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to expeditiously take measures to revive the economy and rebuild Japan’s foreign policy.

Abe said Japan is now “in a critical state” due to prolonged deflation, territorial disputes with its neighbors and slow progress in postdisaster reconstruction.

“The mission assigned to the Abe government is to break through the crisis and put the nation’s economy, education and foreign policy back on a recovery track as a way of regaining people’s confidence in their lives,” said Abe.

“To restore the public’s trust in politics, unfeasible, empty words are unnecessary. What is most important is a rapid speed in implementing steps and the ability to implement them,” said Abe, who began his second stint as prime minister a week ago following elections in mid-December.

Abe acknowledged that much work needs to be done to rebuild the areas damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami because decontamination work near the crisis-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has been proceeding slowly and people’s livelihoods are far from sustainable.

Standing in the way of reconstructing the affected areas is administrative squabbling that has been spreading among government ministries and agencies, Abe said.

To remedy the situation, Abe’s government will unify decision-making to expedite rebuilding, Abe said, referring to the new post of reconstruction minister set up by the previous government led by the Democratic Party of Japan.

Bringing the decision-making system under one umbrella will enable speedy implementation of reconstruction measures, he said.

Meanwhile, Abe has vowed to do all he can to help rebuild foreign policy in the wake of last year’s intensified territorial spats with neighbors China, Taiwan and South Korea.

The prime minister said his government will strengthen patrols and management of remote islands — such as the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea and Takeshima in the Sea of Japan — to protect the nation’s territorial sovereignty and people’s property and lives. China and Taiwan claim the Japan-controlled Senkakus as Diaoyu and Tiaoyutai, respectively, while South Korea, which controls Takeshima, calls it Dokdo.

“Japan under the Abe government will further strengthen its alliance with the United States, rebuild relations with Japan’s neighboring countries and capitalize on economic growth in Asia” for Japan’s growth, he said.

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