Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro stepped down in September 2006 after a five-year term in which he reshaped Japanese politics by undermining his own party's political machine, stretched the constraints on Japan's military role, and promoted a program of ““structural”” economic reform. In his final year in office, he confronted a backlash against his economic reform program and presided over a chill in relations with China and South Korea. Abe Shinzo replaced Koizumi, pledging to repair relations with Japan's neighbors and to promote a pro-growth economic strategy.

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