TOKYO Jan 28 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo
Abe, vowing to overcome what he called an economic crisis facing
the nation, urged the Bank of Japan (BOJ) on Monday to hit its
inflation target as soon as possible, keeping up pressure on the
central bank to make good its promise of bolder action to
In his first policy speech to parliament since returning to
office last month, Abe - in a clear reference to a feud with
China - also promised to "firmly protect" Japan's lands, seas
and air space while strengthening ties with the United States.
Abe has made reviving the stagnant economy with a mix of
hyper-easy monetary policy and fiscal spending his top priority
since his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) returned to power with
a huge election win in December. The push is helping him gain
support from more than two-thirds of Japanese voters after one
month in office, a Nikkei business daily poll showed on Monday.
Last week, bowing to intense government pressure, the BOJ
doubled its inflation target to 2 percent, made an open-ended
commitment to buy assets, and issued a joint statement with the
government promising to meet the price goal at the earliest
"It is important for the government and the BOJ to implement
the content of the joint statement with their own
responsibility, including swift achievement of the 2 percent
inflation target on the part of the BOJ," Abe said.
"Japan cannot beat deflation and the strong yen if we
respond in the same way as in the past. That's why I present a
bolder policy package," he said, starting a 150-day session of
parliament, his handling of which is key to whether the LDP can
win a July upper house election and Abe last longer than his
Citing economic revival as the most pressing task for Japan,
Abe vowed to map out a growth strategy to boost private
investment and consumption, after rolling out $117 billion in
spending in the biggest stimulus since the global financial
FISCAL REFORM, PROTECTING SOVEREIGNTY
"We cannot keep expanding fiscal spending forever...We aim
to bring the primary balance into the black in order to achieve
fiscal reform in the medium to long term," he said referring to
a budget balance excluding debt servicing and bond sales income.
The hawkish 58-year-old grandson of a prime minister also
has a long-term agenda that includes loosening the limits of
Japan's pacifist constitution on the military while restoring a
sense of national pride, although he made no specific reference
to altering the U.S.-drafted charter in his speech.
"The source of my resolve to devote myself again to the
nation and people is my deep sense of patriotism," said Abe, who
abruptly ended a 2006-2007 term when he quit, citing ill health.
Abe said he was determined to bolster the U.S.-Japan
security alliance at a meeting with President Barack Obama
scheduled for the third week of February, calling that alliance
the pillar of Japan's diplomacy.
Cracks in the alliance have encouraged other countries to
take provocative action against Japan's territories, waters and
airspace, Abe said, without naming any countries specifically.
Besides the row with China over islands in the East China
Sea, Tokyo is also locked in a territorial feud with Seoul.
"The situation surrounding Japan is becoming increasingly
severe," he said. "We'll do our best to enhance proper promotion
and management of border islands and strengthen our guard. Here
we pledge to firmly protect people's lives and our territories,
waters and airspace."
Tensions have mounted in the feud over the East China Sea
isles, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China
since Japan bought them from a private owner in September. In a
sign both sides might be trying to calm troubled waters, Chinese
Communist Party chief Xi Jinping told Abe's junior coalition
partner on Friday he was committed to developing two-way ties.