Shinzo Abe, Japan’s new Prime Minister, takes office despite having relatively little political experience.
He was appointed to the Cabinet for the first time in October 2005, given the high-profile role of Chief Cabinet Secretary.
His promotion was seen as a sign that outgoing PM Junichiro Koizumi was grooming him as his eventual successor.
At 52, Mr Abe became Japan’s youngest prime minister since World War II.
In many ways, Mr Abe is a man in Mr Koizumi’s image – telegenic, outspoken, and with a similar popular appeal to voters.
But some fear he will more hawkish on foreign policy matters, and Japan’s relations with China and South Korea could further deteriorate under his premiership.
A conservative, Mr Abe has pushed for policies that include a revision of Japan’s pacifist constitution, teaching of patriotism in schools, a more assertive foreign policy and a close alliance with the US.
He has also been unapologetic over Japan’s behaviour in WWII, and supported Mr Koizumi’s controversial visits to the Yasukuni war shrine – although whether he will carry on those visits remains to be seen.
He’s a pragmatist, a realist… But expect some surprises
Japan’s political ‘blue blood’
Despite this, his aides say they are working hard to arrange summit talks with China’s President Hu Jintao in a bid to repair ties.
Mr Abe’s view on economic policy is less clear. He has supported Mr Koizumi’s market reforms but is under pressure within his party to close the widening gap between rich and poor.
The new prime minister was born in Nagato, Yamaguchi prefecture, into a high-profile political family.
He is the son of Shintaro Abe, a former foreign minister, and grandson of former prime minister Nobusuke Kishi, who was arrested as a suspected war criminal after World War II but never charged.
Mr Abe graduated in political science from Seikei University before studying politics at the University of Southern California.
His first job on returning to Japan was at Kobe Steel, before winning his first seat in the Diet in 1993, representing his home prefecture of Yamaguchi.
He went on to become deputy Cabinet secretary, and then secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in 2003.
Last year, 55% of voters said in a poll they supported Mr Abe to become the next prime minister.
His popularity has partly been due to his outspoken views on North Korea.
He has pushed for Pyongyang to come clean on Japanese citizens it is believed to have kidnapped, and has called for sanctions against the secretive state – something Mr Koizumi himself shied away from.
From the ChiCom side of things courtesy of Xinhau
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe won the ruling Liberal Democratic Party presidential election on Wednesday afternoon and will succeed Junichiro Koizumi to become Japan’s first prime minister born after World War II.
Abe, turning 52 on Thursday, was born in 1954 in Tokyo as the second son of late former Japanese Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe.
He graduated from the Department of Political Science of the Faculty of Law at Seikei University in Tokyo in 1977 and went on to study politics at the University of Southern California.
He entered the political scene as his father’s secretary in 1982 after working for Kobe steel Ltd. for about three years.
He debuted in Japanese political circle in 1993, winning a House of Representatives seat by running in a constituency in Yamaguchi Prefecture. In 2000, he was appointed deputy chief Cabinet secretary in the second Cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.
In 2002, as Japan’s chief negotiator on the issue of abductions of Japanese nationals by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Abe impressed the Japanese public with his tough and uncompromising attitude.
He was elected LDP secretary general in 2003 and became a Cabinet member for the first time in the post of chief Cabinet secretary in Junichiro Koizumi’s third Cabinet in 2005.