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Newsmaker: Shinzo Abe


When Shinzo Abe took office last September, he became Japan's youngest prime minister and the first to be born after World War Two.

The 52 year-old set out on a mission to draw Japan away from its war-time past, vowing to repair strained relations with neighboring countries and revise the pacifist constitution.

After just a year in office, Mr. Abe succeeded in few of his goals.

He managed to hold the first summit in two years with the leaders of China and South Korea. Those countries had long complained that Japan has not acknowledged the pain it caused the region during World War Two.

But he failed to push through constitutional reform. The country's charter was written by U.S. occupiers after the war and limits Japan's military to a role of self-defense. Mr. Abe said the constitution should better reflect Japan's growing role in global security issues.

A third-generation politician, Mr. Abe is the son of a foreign minister and the grandson of Nobusuke Kishi, the prime minister of Japan in the late 1950s.

Despite the tradition of public service, Mr. Abe was fairly inexperienced in Japanese politics when he took office. He was first elected to parliament in 1993, and had held only one Cabinet post, as the chief Cabinet secretary to former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

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