Eric Talmadge

TOKYO: Shinzo Abe took office as Japan’s seventh prime minister in six years Wednesday and vowed to overcome the deep-rooted economic and diplomatic crises facing his country.

Abe was elected as Japan’s leader hours earlier Wednesday, bringing back to power the conservative, pro-business Liberal Democratic Party that governed for most of the post-World War II era. It replaces the liberal-leaning government of the Democratic Party of Japan that lasted three years.

“A strong economy is the source of energy for Japan. Without regaining a strong economy, there is no future for Japan,” Abe told his first news conference after becoming prime minister for the second time.

Calling his administration a “crisis breakthrough Cabinet,” Abe promised to launch bold economic measures to pull Japan out of deflation.

He also vowed to step up an alliance with the United States to stabilize Japan’s diplomacy shaken by increasing territorial threats from its neighbors.

Abe, whose nationalist positions have in the past angered Japan’s neighbors, was also prime minister in 2006-07 before resigning for health reasons that he says are no longer an issue.

Capitalizing on voter discontent with the Democratic Party of Japan, Abe has vowed to shore up the economy, deal with a swelling national debt and come up with a fresh recovery plan following last year’s tsunami disaster, which set off the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

Abe promised to launch bold economic measures, and mobile financial steps and strategies to encourage investment.

“We must recover a Japan where hardworking people can feel that there is a better tomorrow,” he said.

Abe is expected to push for a 2 percent inflation target designed to fight deflation. Continually dropping prices deaden economic activity, a situation the Japanese economy has been stuck in for two decades.

Finance Minister Taro Aso, another former prime minister who is a senior lawmaker, said fighting deflation would be a challenge: “We’ve never dealt with deflation since the end of the war. In fact, nobody in the world has.”

In foreign policy, Abe has stressed his desire to make Japan a bigger player on the world stage, a stance that has resonated with many voters who are concerned that their nation is taking a back seat economically and diplomatically to China.

He has said he will support a reinterpretation of Japan’s pacifist postwar constitution to loosen the reins on the military, stand up to Beijing over an ongoing territorial dispute and strengthen Tokyo’s security alliance with Washington.

“Japan’s national security faces a clear and present danger,” Abe said, referring to intensifying territorial disputes around the Japanese seas, and renewed his campaign promise to protect the safety of the people of Japan and its territory.