Japan PM Abe promises to fend off North Korea

Published 23.10.2017 10:04
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a news conference Monday (EPA Photo)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a news conference Monday (EPA Photo)

Fresh off a decisive election victory, Japan's leader pledged Monday to tackle the military threat from North Korea.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a news conference that he is committed to protect the Japanese people's prosperity and peace from any contingency. He also referred to the Japanese kidnapped years ago and believed still 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.

Abe said he would discuss North Korea "thoroughly" with U.S. President Donald Trump when he visits next month, and reaffirm the two countries' commitment to working together in dealing with the threat.

Abe also listed Japan's aging and shrinking population as a top priority.

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

The prime minister's ruling coalition was returned to power in elections Sunday for Japan's more powerful lower house. Abe said the result showed "strong support" and thanked the people for backing stability and his government's policies.

Yet critics point falling approval ratings, and a snap election called to trounce a disorganized opposition. Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have long advocated for constitutional amendments to boost the rule of the military, a move which would require the two-thirds majority in parliament won in Sunday's vote.

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