Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday he plans to unveil his vision for a new Japan in 2015 that builds its postwar pacifism as the country marks the 70th anniversary since its defeat in World War II.
Abe pledged in his New Year address to maintain a priority on economic revitalization and to push for “bolder and speedier” reforms. He said his government had already tackled post-disaster reconstruction, educational and social security reforms, and the rebuilding of Japan’s diplomacy and security.
“I hope this year will be a year (for Japan) to show to the world the future shape of a country that we aim to create, and make a strong start toward building that new country,” Abe said.
The prime minister is expected to issue a new statement this year to mark the 70th anniversary in August of the end of World War II, a document that will be closely watched due to its implications for relations with China and South Korea, which both suffered under Japan’s wartime aggression.
After Japan recovered from the devastation of the war and became a global player in the decades that followed, Abe said it was now time to consider how Japan will make future contributions to the world.
The government plans to table a slew of security legislation that designed to enable the exercise of the right to collective self-defense, or defending allies under armed attack even when Japan itself is not.
In his previous two New Year messages since taking office in 2012, Abe expressed his determination to defend Japanese territory against the backdrop of an increasingly assertive China. But he made no reference to the issue this year.
There have been mixed signals suggesting that Japan-China relations could be thawing somewhat, including the first meeting between Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in November.
Abe began his third term as prime minister earlier this month after his Liberal Democratic Party emerged victorious in a snap Lower House election. Abe has said the election win represented an endorsement of his “Abenomics” policies despite news that Japan had fallen back into recession, forcing him to postpone until 2017 a second scheduled consumption tax hike to 10 percent, originally planned for 2015.
“Our government will continue to place its highest priority on the economy and bring the warm winds of economic recovery all over the country,” Abe said in his message to the Japanese people.
The Cabinet approved in late December an emergency economic stimulus package worth around ¥3.5 trillion to help regional economies cushion the impact of the tax hike in April 2014 and the yen’s sharp fall, a by-product of Abenomics.