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Yearbook 2006

2006 JapanJapan. Japan entered a fairly quiet phase during the year. The economy - the second largest in the world - stabilized and the banks, which have been shaken by the Asian economic crisis and difficulties in recovering so-called bad loans since the 1990s, were again willing to give credit. GDP grew by 2% and, according to joint analysts, Japan can look forward to several years of stable growth if nothing drastic occurs.

According to CountryAAH, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was replaced in September by the successor he himself elected, 51-year-old Shinzo Abe, also he from Japan's dominant party, the Liberal Democratic Party, and known as quite conservative. Abe refused to reveal whether he intended to follow in Koizumi's footsteps and continue the criticized visits to the Yasukuni Temple in Tokyo, which have been erected in memory of Japan's war dead - among them several convicted and executed war criminals. However, he has been there several times before he became head of government. The representative's annual visit has upset neighboring countries China and South Korea, which were severely affected by Japan's invasions in the 20th century. Koizumi had decided that it was time to leave. The support that both the LDP and Parliament gave Abe can be seen as confirmation of the success that the charismatic Koizumi achieved during his reign.

2006 Japan

During the year, royalist Japanese were pleased that the emperor's family received a male supplement. A boy was born on September 6 by Princess Kiko. Dad is Prince Akishino, younger brother of Crown Prince Naruhito. Naruhito and his wife Masako have daughter Aiko but no son. Female succession had been debated, but the debate was broached in the traditionally bound Japan with the birth of little Hisahito.

A growing problem was North Korea's provocative policy. In early July, North Korea launched seven robots landing in the sea off Japan On July 15, the United Nations adopted a resolution aimed at North Korea. That did not stop the Stalinist country from carrying out a new provocation on October 9 - its first explosion of a nuclear charge. The result was a new resolution on October 14 in the UN Security Council with decisions on punitive measures against the Pyongyang regime. Japan was one of the countries that wanted to go the longest. Tokyo banned North Korean vessels from entering Japanese ports and severed trade relations. The North Korean Nuclear Test sparked a debate in Japan about the possibility of acquiring nuclear weapons - a topic that has been almost taboo since the US nuclear bombs against Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Prime Minister Abe admitted he believes the constitution allows Japan to have such weapons for self-defense, but stressed that the country should remain nuclear-free. By contrast, Abe wants to change the constitution, which was then imposed on the then heavily militarized Japan by the United States at the end of the war. It prohibits Japan from having military forces. But Tokyo has interpreted the text so that self-defense is allowed. Now the Japanese military and LDP want to expand the military's role. Among other things, the possibility of a robotic defense against possible North Korean attacks is discussed.

Also at the summit of APEC, the Pacific Cooperation's Economic Cooperation Organization, in Hanoi on November 17-18, North Korea became the main subject. The meeting was attended by Abe, President George W. Bush, President Vladimir Putin and China's President Hu Jintao.

Pyongyang was asked to participate in six-party talks with the United States, Russia, China, South Korea and Japan But in November, the communist regime demanded that the Japanese be excluded because they are "politically imbecile" as they do not recognize North Korea as a nuclear weapon.

An approximation was noticed between Japan, China and South Korea after Abe's entry, although it was about small steps. The Prime Minister traveled to Beijing and Seoul, and an agreement was reached with Beijing to resume high-level military meetings after three years' stay.

The US massive presence in Japan has long disturbed its citizens, especially in the south where Okinawa houses about 47,000 American soldiers. On April 24, Japan and the United States finally agreed to move 8,000 of them to the American island of Guam.

Japan's support for the US alliance in Iraq in the form of 600 soldiers working on reconstruction ceased with the take-home in July of all Japanese soldiers. The home opinion was always strongly opposed to participation in Iraq. Not a single soldier was injured - however, several other Japanese were killed.

Relations with Russia were disturbed by the conflict over some islands in the Kuriles. A fisherman on a Japanese crab fishing vessel was shot dead by the Russian coastguard in August.

Japan's hunting for dolphins and whales are concerned about environmental activists and animal friends. In January, Greenpeace accused a Japanese whaling vessel of hitting its Arctic Sunrise in the Pacific. However, no human was injured. Greenpeace accused the Japanese of catching whales in a protected area.

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