Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged on Monday to work with the US, China and Russia to contain North Korea’s nuclear threat with “strong, resolute diplomacy”, as he “humbly” accepted his landslide victory in a snap election.
Fresh from clinching a two-thirds “super-majority” that enables the nationalist premier to realise his dream of revising Japan’s pacifist constitution, Abe vowed to forge a “national consensus” on the divisive issue.
Addressing reporters on his election win, Abe said he would “confirm close co-operation” on North Korea with Donald Trump when the US president visits Japan next month and then discuss the issue with the Chinese and Russian leaders.
“I have renewed my determination to secure people’s lives and peaceful living, no matter what,” said the 63-year-old.
North Korea, which has threatened to “sink” Japan and fired two missiles over its northern islands, dominated the 12-day election campaign that Abe eventually won comfortably.
“We will solve North Korea’s missile, nuclear and abduction issues with strong, resolute diplomacy,” he said in reference to the abduction of Japanese by Pyongyang in the 1970s and 1980s.
Abe’s conservative coalition was on track to win at least 313 seats with only a handful left to call, according to public broadcaster NHK, giving him the coveted two-thirds majority in the lower house of parliament.
He is now on course to become Japan’s longest-serving premier, winning a fresh term at the helm of the world’s third-biggest economy and key US regional ally.
North Korean belligerence helped the ruling coalition because “people are scared” and voted for Abe’s hardline stance, said Gerald Curtis, professor of political science at Columbia University.
“I focused on the national defence issue, because I am concerned about North Korea. So I chose the party that will work firmly on this issue,” one voter, 66-year-old pensioner Tsuyoshi Ushijima, told AFP.