| "Call me, if you want, a right-wing militarist. Buy my Abenomics."
On the one-year anniversary of his election Thursday as president of the country`s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Japanese Prime Minister makes no bones about expressing his views. Backed by strong support at home, he even criticizes China openly.
Speaking at an event hosted by the Hudson Institute, a U.S. conservative think tank, in New York on Wednesday (local time), Abe said, "(China) has increased its military expenditures, hardly transparent, by more than 10 percent annually for more than 20 years since 1989. And then my government has increased its defense budget only by 0.8 percent. So call me, if you want, a right-wing militarist." He was openly criticizing China`s military buildup.
Abe said that it was his "historic duty" to enable his country to play a greater role in pursuing an "active pacifism," a term that he uses frequently when talking about his diplomatic and security strategies. While Abe says that Japan will be a "proactive contributor to peace and stability" in the world, the term is a camouflage for Japan`s move to become a military power.
He also argues that it is necessary for his country to exercise the right of collective self-defense to pursue active pacifism. In the speech, he stressed that Japan should become a "weak link" in the regional and global security framework in which the United States is playing a leading role.
Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun reported Thursday that Tokyo plans to include "incidents that significantly affects Japan`s security" as well as armed attacks on allies into the area where Japan can exercise the collective self-defense right. The plan would further expand the geographical area where Japan can exercise the right.
His speech took place on the occasion of the Hudson Institute`s selection of Abe as the recipient of its 2013 Herman Kahn Award, which is presented to those who made significant contributions to the U.S. national security. Previous awardees were all U.S. conservative leaders including former President Ronald Reagan, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former Vice President Dick Cheney. Abe has become the first non-American to win the award. The institute said that Abe was a "transformative leader seeking to advance the kind of reform necessary to restore Japan to full economic vitality."
On Wednesday, Abe visited the New York Stock Exchange, becoming the first Japanese prime minister to do so. "I am here to tell you that Japan is back," he said, adding his country has once again become a country worth investing in. Explaining Tokyo`s deregulation drive and planned tax cuts, he said, "For the world economy to recover, all you need to know is three words: Buy my Abenomics."
In the election for LDP president, Abe was the runner-up in the first voting but won the second voting to be elected. Most observers had projected that his rivals would soon challenge him. One year later, however, the situation has changed completely. Abe appointed most of his rivals to key posts at the party and his cabinet.