TOKYO -- Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda resigned Wednesday ahead of a vote in Parliament to return former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to power, ending the country's three-year break from decades of near-constant rule by the conservative Liberal Democratic Party.
The change in prime ministers is the seventh in six years, a high turnover that is a sign of Japan's inability to escape its long economic funk. Mr. Abe faces not only industrial decline but also the challenge of an increasingly assertive China.
An outspoken nationalist, Mr. Abe, 58, has vowed to defend Japan's control of islands in the East China Sea that are also claimed by China. However, since his party's landslide Dec. 16 victory, he has played down confrontation with Asian neighbors, and instead focused his agenda on lifting Japan's faltering economy out of recession ahead of upper house elections next summer.
Mr. Abe has vowed to move quickly to spur growth by offering 10 trillion yen, or about $120 billion, in public works and other emergency stimulus spending.
He has also promised to force the central bank to move more aggressively to combat deflation and to weaken the value of the yen, which would offer relief to beleaguered export industries by making Japanese products cheaper abroad.
The measures, called Abenomics by local news media, are intended to revive the economy ahead of the elections in June, which would help Mr. Abe's party also reclaim the upper house, giving it control of Parliament.
Mr. Abe has already appointed much of his cabinet, filling it with mostly relatively young and unknown faces.
While many of the appointees are Mr. Abe's friends, the fresh lineup is also apparently intended to emphasize that the party has changed since it was voted out in 2009.
The Liberal Democrats, who governed Japan for most of the past six decades, are widely blamed for presiding over Japan's so-called lost decades of economic stagnation and industrial hollowing.
Among the few veterans on the cabinet will be Taro Aso, 72, another former prime minister, who will return as finance minister and deputy prime minister.
The important post of foreign minister will go to Fumio Kishida, a 55-year-old former minister in charge of Okinawan affairs, who is expected to try to smooth ties with the United States frayed by a dispute over an American air base on Okinawa.
Mr. Abe will also face some early challenges, such as bridging a rift within his party over whether Japan should join a new regional free-trade pact led by the United States. Joining the agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, is supported by business but opposed by farmers. Both are staunch backers of the Liberal Democrats.
Another challenge will be responding to China's stepped-up efforts to assert its claims to the disputed islands. Chinese government ships and more recently aircraft now make almost daily incursions into Japanese-controlled waters and airspace near the islands, with no signs of letting up.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.