Five key events that shaped Abe's career

Tokyo (AFP) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who won a majority in Sunday's election, first came to power in 2006-2007. He returned as prime minister in 2012, a rare comeback in Japanese politics.

Five key events that shaped Abe's career

Five key events that shaped Abe's career

Here are five key events that have defined his career:

- Blue blood, bad bowels -

Abe is a third-generation politician groomed from birth for the job by his elite conservative family. His grandfather served as prime minister and his father was foreign minister.

He took his father's seat as an MP in 1993 and, after a stint as chief cabinet secretary became the country's youngest post-war prime minister in 2006 at the age of 52.

But his term was abruptly cut short after only a year when he stepped down, citing bowel problems caused by extreme exhaustion and stress.

He later gave a somewhat overly detailed explanation of the effects of ulcerative colitis. This involved toilet visits which he said were too frequent to be compatible with one of the great offices of state.

- Comeback kid -

Abe got a rare second chance in December 2012 when a disillusioned public ended a three-year experiment with the left-leaning Democratic Party of Japan.

The DPJ pledged to remake the country after more than half a century of almost unbroken rule by Abe's Liberal Democratic Party but fell foul of a wave of scandal and ineptitude.

Abe was also able to capitalise on the DPJ's missteps in tackling the atomic accident at the Fukushima power plant, the world's worst since Chernobyl in 1986.

A 9.0-magnitude earthquake in March 2011 triggered a massive and deadly tsunami which smashed into the power station and overwhelmed reactor cooling systems, sending three into meltdown.

Despite this, Abe has steadfastly promoted nuclear energy which he calls essential to powering the world's third-largest economy.

Abe and utility companies have been pushing to reactivate reactors shut down after the Fukushima crisis for safety reviews.

- Abenomics -

Abe swept back to power on a pledge to revive Japan's once-booming economy with a plan dubbed Abenomics.

The scheme -- a mixture of massive monetary easing, government spending and reforms to the economy -- stoked a stock market rally and fattened corporate profits.

Japan has posted its longest economic expansion in over a decade but inflation is still far below the BoJ's target, discouraging spending by consumers.

The country has been struggling to overcome years of deflation and slow growth that followed the collapse of an equity and property market bubble in the early 1990s.

- Pacifism, North Korea -

Throughout Abe's career he has striven to revise Japan's pacifist constitution, imposed on the defeated country by the United States in 1947, seven years before he was born.

Abe is a staunch supporter of the security relationship with the US but has long called for revising the constitution, seen by conservatives as an outdated legacy of the country's wartime defeat and subsequent US occupation.

Japan in 2015 passed controversial new laws that could, under certain circumstances, see its troops fight abroad for the first time since the end of World War II.

Abe says the legislation is necessary because of perceived threats from an increasingly assertive China and an unstable North Korea.

Opponents argue that they go against both the constitution and the national psyche, and could see Japan dragged into wars led by treaty ally the US.

Abe took a tough line on North Korea throughout the campaign, calling for maximum pressure on the regime and sticking to the US line that "all options" were on the table to counter its nuclear threat.

- Snap election -

Abe took a major gamble by calling the snap election.

He maintained he wanted a fresh mandate for his policies on North Korea and the economy, but sceptics said he needed to divert attention from a series of damaging scandals that had eroded his popularity.

For a time, it looked like the gamble had backfired as Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike launched a new party in a blaze of publicity.

But Koike's bubble soon burst and Abe is now on his way to becoming the longest-serving leader in Japanese post-war history.

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