Japan PM Abe sings national anthem as a step to "take back Japan"
TOKYO (REUTERS) - Hawkish Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling party 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 the 58-year-old to the premiership following his conservative Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) landslide win in an election last month has raised concerns at home and abroad about a shift to the right in Japanese politics.
"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'," the Sankei newspaper quoted Mr Abe as saying after he and other LDP members sang the anthem at a meeting.
"Take back Japan" was one of the LDP's slogans in the campaign for the Dec 16 election that returned the long-dominant party to power just three years after a huge defeat at the hands of the novice Democratic Party of Japan.