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North Korea and ageing Japan main priorities for PM Abe after big election win

World News | Published:

Mr Abe said the result showed “strong support” from the people and thanked them for backing stability and his government’s policies.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to tackle what he called Japan’s two national crises: the military threat from North Korea and an ageing and shrinking population.

Speaking after a decisive election victory, he said he is committed to protect the Japanese people’s prosperity and peace from any contingency. He also referred to Japanese people who were abducted years ago and are believed to still be held by North Korea.

“I will pursue decisive and strong diplomacy to tackle North Korea’s missile, nuclear and abduction issues and put further pressure to get it to change its policy,” he said.

Votes are counted in Tokyo
Votes are counted in Tokyo (Koji Sasahara/AP)

His ruling coalition was returned to power in elections for Japan’s more powerful lower house on Sunday.

Mr Abe said Japan’s decreasing population and ageing is “the biggest challenge” for his Abenomics policy aimed at Japan’s economic recovery from deflation. “The problem is progressing by the minute, and we cannot afford waiting around.”

He promised a comprehensive package by the end of the year to deal with Japan’s demographic challenges, including investments in education, productivity improvements and pension system reform.

Mr Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and a small coalition partner together secured at least 313 seats in the 465-member lower house, passing the 310-barrier for a two-thirds majority. Three seats remained undecided.

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Stocks rose in Tokyo on Monday morning following the vote
Stocks rose in Tokyo on Monday morning following the vote (Shizuo Kambayashi/AP)

Mr Abe said the result showed “strong support” from the people and thanked them for backing stability and his government’s policies.

The victory boosts his chances of winning another three-year term as party leader next September. That could extend his premiership to 2021, giving him more time to try to win a reluctant public over to his longtime goal of revising Japan’s pacifist constitution.

In the immediate term, the win is likely to mean a continuation of the policies Mr Abe has pursued since he took office in December 2012 – a hard line on North Korea, close ties with Washington, including defence, as well as a super-loose monetary policy and push for nuclear energy. Stocks rose in Tokyo on Monday morning.

Mr Abe said he will have “deep discussion” on North Korean policies with US President Donald Trump during his planned visit to Japan from November 5-7. He said he will call a special parliamentary session to be re-elected as prime minister and install his new Cabinet, which is expected to retain most of its current members.

Mr Abe’s ruling coalition already has a two-thirds majority in the less powerful upper house. Having a so-called supermajority in both houses gives them virtually a free hand to push even divisive policies and legislation.

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