Curtains for pacifist Japan? Abe, conservatives win big as N. Korea threat looms

by WorldTribune Staff, October 22, 2017

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) rolled to a landslide victory in Japan’s election on Oct. 22.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe puts rosettes by successful general election candidates’ names on a board at LDP party headquarters in Tokyo on Oct. 22. / AFP

The conservative coalition was on track to win 311 seats in the 465-seat House of Representatives on the National Diet, according to a projection published by private broadcaster TBS.

If the projection holds up, Abe would have a super  majority and the authority to change the nation’s pacifist constitution, which he has been pushing for.

Analysts say the comfortable victory also gives Abe a mandate to cement his hawkish stance on North Korea, which has threatened to “sink” Japan into the sea. Pyongyang recently fired two missiles over Japan in the space of a month.

Abe, who has become U.S. President Donald Trump’s key ally in the hard line against Pyongyang, said “all options” – including military force – remained on the table.

“At a time when North Korea is threatening us and increasing tensions, we must never waver,” Abe said in his final campaign speech on Oct. 21. “We must not yield to the threat of North Korea.”

Support for the Party of Hope, founded by popular Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, fizzled and was on track to win around 50 seats, the TBS projection said.

The new center-left Constitutional Democratic Party fared slightly better than expected but was still far behind Abe.

“The LDP’s victory is simply because the opposition couldn’t form a united front,” political scientist Mikitaka Masuyama from the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, told AFP.

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