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Politics

Abe commemorates the start of Meiji era with words of optimism

Japan's prime minister vows to "open up the future"

Abe attends an event marking the start of the Meiji era 150 years ago.

TOKYO -- In a speech at an event marking the start of the Meiji era 150 years ago, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to continue building on the success of past generations in the nation's future endeavors.

Abe, who chaired the committee handling the event, said he will keep working to "open up the future, never flinching from whatever challenges, as did our forefathers in the Meiji era, toward the era beyond Heisei."

About 300 people, including House of Representatives Speaker Tadamori Oshima, House of Councilors President Chuichi Date and Supreme Court Chief Justice Otani Naoto, attended the event along with Diet members from ruling and opposition parties.

During his address, Abe said that "the foundation was laid for Japan's current politics, economy and society" in the Meiji era, when the Constitution was established and the parliamentary and Cabinet systems were introduced.

"I can't help but be amazed at their hopeful vitality and lofty aspirations," Abe said. "Those of us who live in the moment must walk forward, taking pride in this."

Japan's neighbors, including China, have a less than positive view regarding Japan's modernization, which started with the Meiji Restoration, as it led to the country's rise as a military power. The Sino-Japanese War broke out during the period.

Tuesday's event pushed back Abe's scheduled China visit to Thursday. The prime minister initially planned to fly to Beijing after the event to attend a party marking the 40th anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the two countries.

According to a source, China expressed concern that Abe's attendance at the Meiji anniversary would put a damper on the proceedings, resulting in Abe's three-day visit being postponed.

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