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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2006, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
Abe elected as new Japan premier
Shinzo Abe bows after being voted in as Japan's Prime Minister

Japan's parliament has elected Shinzo Abe as the nation's new prime minister.

The conservative Mr Abe won 339 of 475 votes in the powerful lower house, as well as a majority in the upper house.

He was virtually guaranteed the position, after winning last week's leadership election for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

At 52, he will be Japan's youngest prime minister since World War II, replacing the flamboyant but straight-talking Junichiro Koizumi.

In his first press conference after the vote, Mr Abe pledged to press on with Mr Koizumi's economic reforms and work for improved ties with China.

He also announced he would take a 30% cut in his pay, in what he called a "good model" for cutting government spending.

Following his appointment, Mr Abe announced the line up of his new Cabinet.

It's the beginning of the new era under Abe
Hidenao Nakagawa
LDP Secretary-General

He gave the job of Chief Cabinet Secretary to a key aide, Yasuhisa Shiozaki.

Mr Shiozaki will also have special responsibility for handling a row over North Korea's abduction of Japanese citizens to train Korean spies in the 1970s and 1980s.

Former defence chief Fumio Kyuma is the new Defence Minister, while Taro Aso retains his post as Foreign Minister.

The announcement of other cabinet posts has shed less light than many had hoped on the future direction of the Abe administration, the BBC's Chris Hogg in Tokyo says.

The Japanese people will have to wait for the new prime minister's major policy speech on Friday for further details, our correspondent adds.

Repairing relations

As the results were announced, Japan's new prime minister stood up and bowed to fellow members of parliament.

"It's the beginning of the new era under Abe," LDP Secretary-General Hidenao Nakagawa told Japanese media.

Koizumi bids farewell to staff at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo
Junichiro Koizumi was in power for more than five years

"I hope those who voted for Abe will join hands to achieve our political goals," he said.

Mr Abe has pushed for policies including a tight alliance with the US, the revision of Japan's pacifist constitution and a more assertive foreign policy.

But correspondents say one of his first challenges will be to repair relations with China and South Korea, who have been angered by Mr Koizumi's annual visits to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine.

Shortly after his reappointment, Mr Aso said the government would be working towards holding summit talks with China.

South Korea said it hoped Mr Abe would "refrain from behaviour" that might cause trouble with Japan's neighbours.

Mr Abe is relatively new to politics and does not have a great deal of experience in Japan's great offices of state.

His previous role, Chief Cabinet Secretary, was his first cabinet job.

But he does have an impressive political pedigree - both his grandfather and great uncle were prime ministers and his father was foreign minister.

Mr Abe is also popular with the electorate, and appears to have been groomed by Mr Koizumi to be his successor.

Japan's parliament votes in a new premier

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