• JIJI, Kyodo, Staff Report

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has opened an official Instagram account, joining many people in the nation, including young women, who use the increasingly popular photo-sharing service.

His first post on the account, opened Friday, was a photo of his nameplate taken when he appeared on “Waratte Iitomo!” a now-defunct TV variety show, in 2014.

He posted a comment with the photo that said: “The year 2018, I’m finally starting Instagram.” The message was hashtagged with several words including those meaning “beginner” and “first post.”

Soon after, Abe’s account was bombarded with messages, including one that said, “Please raise the hourly wages of part-timers,” and another that called on the government not to increase the tobacco tax.

As of Sunday afternoon, Abe’s Instagram account (shinzo_abe_921) had some 36,000 followers, and was following six accounts: his Liberal Democratic Party, Cabinet members Seiko Noda and Hiroshige Seko, former Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, his wife Akie Abe, and retired figure skater Mao Asada.

As of Sunday evening, the account had received over 1,200 messages and about 18,000 likes.

Insuta-bae,” a term referring to scenes or products that look perfect for posting on Instagram, was declared Japan’s buzzword of the year earlier this month.

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