Shinzo Abe returns as Japan's prime minister, makes economy his top priority

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Japan election 2012: Shinzo Abe, head of Japan's conservative Liberal Democratic Party, today embarked on his second term as the island nation's prime minister.

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Shinzo Abe returned to power after the LDP won around 300 seats in the 480-member parliament. Former prime minister Yoshihiko Noda and his Democratic Party of Japan were booted out by voters after failing to boost the economy. Noda was perceived as weak on foreign policy. Voters were also unhappy he proposed increasing the sales tax to lower the budget deficit.

In Abe, Japanese voters chose a candidate who promised a more hawkish foreign policy and an inflationary economic policy. Abe has already threatened to enact legislation to devalue the yen if the central bank fails to impose a two percent inflation target. The yen yesterday dropped to a 20-month low.

Abe is making efforts to make his Liberal Democratic Party appear less conservative, including a push to increase the number of female leaders in industry. He has also recently toned down his hawkish foreign policy rhetoric, announcing that he will not visit the Yasukuni Shrine next year and that he will consider joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The LDP has ruled Japan almost continuously since it was formed by a merger of two parties in 1955.

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