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Politics

Newly elected Japanese PM Shinzo Abe unveils cabinet

New Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has unveiled his cabinet. Abe, who resigned after one year of his first term as prime minister in 2007, is Japan's seventh premier in less than seven years.

Shinzo Abe named his cabinet shortly after being elected prime minister by the lower house parliament on Wednesday.

The premier, whose first administration was dogged by allegations of cronyism picked a slate made up both of close allies from his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Abe named former prime minister Taro Aso as finance minister and ex-trade and industry minister Akira Amari as minister for economic revival.

Toshimitsu Motegi, a policy veteran, will take over as trade minister. Motegi will also be in charge of creating energy policy in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year.

Loyal Abe backer Yoshihide Suga was appointed chief cabinet secretary and former Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki was handed the justice portfolio. Two rivals Yoshimasa Hayashi and Nobuteru Ishihara got the agriculture and environment/nuclear crisis portfolios respectively.

A focus on the economy

Abe was first elected premier in 2006 but after a one-year term troubled by scandal in his cabinet, he abruptly resigned. Abe and his LDP made a stunning comeback in the December 16 election, after making a two-pronged policy of aggressive monetary easing and big fiscal spending to slay deflation major pillars of its platform.

During the campaign, Abe also promised to take a tough stance in territorial disputes with China and South Korea over separate chains of tiny islands.

Abe, the grandson of a former prime minister, has said his first overseas trip will be to the United States, with whom he has promised closer ties.

The LDP and its ally, the New Komeito party, won a two-thirds majority in the 480-seat lower house in the election.  Japan's upper house parliamentary election is to be held in July 2013.

Abe was to be confirmed in office by Emperor Akihito later in the day, in a move that is regarded as a mere formality.

hc/pfd (Reuters, AFP)