Japan's PM appears more confident in 1st year

Japan's PM appears more confident in 1st year

JAPAN - Thursday will mark one year since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was elected president of the Liberal Democratic Party, followed by his inauguration as prime minister three months later. His focus on economic revitalisation has contributed to his success in increasing popular support for the Cabinet while also uniting his Liberal Democratic Party behind him.

Abe has become shrewder and more formidable in running his government than he was during the days of his first Cabinet, according to some observers.

Abe was named LDP president on Sept 26, 2012. Three months later, he took the reins of government as prime minister after his party's overwhelming victory in December's general election.

Olympic boost

Abe turned 59 on Saturday. That evening, the prime minister dined out with his wife, Akie, and other guests. As he emerged from the dinner, a group of reporters asked Abe how he was going to spend the last year in his 50s. He replied, "I'd like to make it a good year."

The second Abe Cabinet scored an approval rating of 65 per cent at first. After peaking at more than 70 per cent, the rating began to fall before rebounding partly due to his successful campaign to have Tokyo win its bid to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Since taking office as prime minister, Abe has steadily worked to address one of the public's greatest concerns-economic improvement. He also tried to show the public that he was spearheading efforts to ensure Tokyo hosted the 2020 Olympics, a sporting event expected to boost the Japanese economy in various ways.

"[Abe's] economic management is not only highly rated by the public, the prime minister is also lucky," the leader of an LDP faction said.

Some observers are already beginning to think there may be common ground between the second Abe administration and the Cabinet of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, which reigned for five years and five months. In its second year, the Koizumi administration achieved a sharp recovery in its popular support rating by persuading North Korea to repatriate five Japanese abductees to Japan.

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