Japanese PM Abe outlines top priorities after party's resounding election win

By Sara Shayanian  |  Oct. 23, 2017 at 7:15 AM
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Oct. 23 (UPI) -- After a landslide election win for his party, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday made the military threat from North Korea and his country's aging population top priorities.

Calling them Japan's two national crises, Abe pledged to protect the country's peace and the prosperity of its people.

"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, who dissolved the lower house of parliament last month to hold snap elections, put himself in the position to strengthen Japan's military while paving the way to become the country's longest-serving prime minister if he wins next year's election.

North Korea's state-run media responded to Abe's North Korean priority, calling the elections a "last-ditch efforts of those frightened by the tremendous might of the DPRK."

Abe spoke of his country's aging population as another top priority Monday. He called it "the biggest challenge" for his economic policy and noted that the issue "is progressing by the minute, and we cannot afford to wait around."

U.S. President Donald Trump congratulated Abe on his party's victory in Sunday's snap election, where Abe's Liberal Democratic Party took between 355 and 300 seats out of a 465-seat House of Representatives.

Trump, in a phone call with Abe Monday, discussed North Korea threat. The Japanese leader, who has visited Trump in Washington, D.C., and Florida, had discussed "placing as much pressure as possible on Pyongyang so it will change its policies under the unshakable Japan-U.S. alliance" in his campaign speeches.

Trump is scheduled to make a 12-day Asia trip beginning Nov. 3, and has plans to play golf in Japan with Abe Nov. 5.

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