Japan PM begins 2013 with national anthem

New Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling party have kicked off their first full working day of 2013 by singing the national anthem, seen by critics as a symbol of past imperialism and militarism.

The return of Mr Abe, 58, to the premiership following his Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) landslide election win last month has raised concerns at home and abroad about a shift to the right in Japanese politics.

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Newspaper Sankei quoted Mr Abe as saying: “We have returned the government to a party that can stoutly sing Kimigayo at the start of business and truly been able to take a first step to ‘take back Japan’.”

“Take back Japan” was one of the LDP’s campaign slogans.