Abe stresses focus on economic recovery

"We want a rocketlike start toward economic recovery...The Year of the Snake [this year on the Asian zodiac] symbolizes prosperous business. This administration will unite to boost the economy," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

Abe emphasised his determination to realise economic recovery during a press conference he held Friday after visiting the Ise Grand Shrines in Ise, Mie Prefecture.

The House of Councillors election scheduled in July will be a key moment in the nation's political situation, many observers agree.

In a bid to win the upper house election, Abe apparently aims to maintain a high approval rating for the Cabinet by improving the economy and achieving good results in diplomacy and national security, such as strengthening Japan-US relations and reducing friction with neighbouring countries.

The prime minister's economic policies--dubbed "Abenomics" by economists and market players--have raised hopes in the market. The stock and currency markets have reacted favourably to the Abe administration since just before it was launched, which appears to have given Abe self-confidence.

During the press conference, Abe called the set of economic reforms "three arrows for growth": a bold monetary policy, a flexible fiscal policy and a growth strategy to stimulate private investment.

The government plans to have the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy and the newly established headquarters for Japan's economic revitalization work together closely with the Bank of Japan to map out specific measures, Abe said.

"The Bank of Japan's monetary policy is critically important, so the central bank should act responsibly," he said. Abe then strongly urged the bank to adopt a 2 per cent inflation target.

The central bank is scheduled to hold a two-day policy-setting meeting on monetary measures on Jan. 21-22, the first such meeting of 2013.

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