Japan's PM starts year in song

2013-01-07 17:50
Shinzo Abe (Picture: AFP)

Shinzo Abe (Picture: AFP)

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Tokoyo - Japan's nationalist new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe began his first working day of 2013 on Monday by singing the national anthem, seen by some as a symbol of past imperialism.

The hawkish premier's conservative Liberal Democratic Party, which returned to power in a general election landslide victory last month, opened a party meeting by singing "Kimigayo".

The solemn song, based on an ancient poem with obscure lyrics whose title is widely translated as "His Majesty's Reign", has served as the national anthem since the late 19th century - even after Japan's defeat in World War II.

"As control of government shifted to a political party that could firmly sing Kimigayo on the first working day of the year, we were truly able to take a first step toward taking back Japan," Abe told the LDP meeting, according to the Sankei daily online edition and the Nippon TV network.

Abe, a third-generation politician whose grandfather was a World War II cabinet member and became a post-war prime minister, has advocated the revision of the pacifist constitution imposed by the US in 1947.

Kimigayo has been sung at domestic and international sporting events, despite persistent criticism from leftists and liberals that it was the anthem of militarist Japan.

Efforts by local authorities to have the song sung at official functions in school have been met with strong resistance from teachers.

Teachers also have little respect for the red-sun national flag that has also survived the war.

Read more on:    shinzo abe  |  japan
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