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Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe forms cabinet

ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Japan's latest Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed on Wednesday to embark on a diplomatic style which looks out for Japanese interests and committed to reviving the economy. He stressed the importance of rebuilding Japan-U.S. relations as the first step on the road to recovering lost ground in diplomacy. A hawk on security matters, Abe, 58, has promised aggressive monetary easing by the Bank of Japan and big fiscal spending by the debt-laden government to slay deflation and weaken the yen to make Japanese exports more competitive. The grandson of a former prime minister, Abe has staged a stunning comeback five years after abruptly resigning as premier in the wake of a one-year term troubled partly by scandals in his cabinet and public outrage over lost pension records. Abe's long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) surged back to power in this month's election, three years after a crushing defeat at the hands of the novice Democratic Party of Japan. Abe appointed a cabinet of close allies who share his conservative views in key posts, but leavened the line-up with LDP rivals to provide ballast and fend off criticism of cronyism that dogged his first administration. Former prime minister Taro Aso, 72, was named finance minister and also received the financial services portfolio. Ex-trade and industry minister Akira Amari became minister for economic revival, heading a new panel tasked with coming up with growth strategies such as deregulation. Policy veteran Toshimitsu Motegi, as trade minister, will be tasked with formulating energy policy in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year. Loyal Abe backer Yoshihide Suga was appointed chief cabinet secretary, a key post combining the job of top government spokesman with responsibility for co-ordinating among ministries. Others who share Abe's agenda to revise the pacifist constitution and rewrite Japan's wartime history with a less apologetic tone were also given posts, including conservative lawmaker Hakubun Shimomura as education minister. Fiscal hawk Sadakazu Tanigaki, whom Abe replaced as LDP leader in September, became justice minister while two rivals who ran unsuccessfully in that party race -- Yoshimasa Hayashi and Nobuteru Ishihara -- got the agriculture and environment-nuclear crisis portfolios respectively. The yen has weakened about 9.8 percent against the dollar since Abe was elected LDP leader in September. On Wednesday, it hit a 20-month low of 85.38 yen against the greenback on expectations of aggressive monetary policy easing.

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