Re-Elected Japanese PM Plans Big Change to Military

Abe has promised a hard line on North Korea
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2017 4:13 AM CDT
After Election Win, Japan PM Promises Hard Line on N. Korea
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a press conference at his Liberal Democratic Party headquarters in Tokyo, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017.   (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cruised to re-election victory Sunday on a promise to take a hard line against Pyongyang, and he says the country will now "dramatically show counter-measures against the North Korea threat." Abe said Monday that action against North Korea will be discussed with President Trump when he visits Japan next month, the BBC reports. His Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition ally now hold 313 of the 465 seats in the lower house of Japan's parliament. That's a big enough majority to pass an amendment to the country's US-crafted post-WWII constitution, and Abe plans to do so by formally recognizing the country's military in the document for the first time.

The constitution currently has a "pacifist clause" that limits the country's military to a self-defense role, and changing it to allow a more robust military would still require approval in a national referendum, USA Today notes. Abe, whose popularity sank to just 30% in the summer but rebounded as the nation fretted about threats from North Korea, is expected to continue his policy of closely aligning with the US, the AP reports. Abe has also promised action on what he says is the country's second big crisis, after North Korea: An aging and shrinking population. "The problem is progressing by the minute, and we cannot afford waiting around," he said Monday. (In 2015, Abe's party reinterpreted the constitution to allow the military to fight in overseas conflicts.)

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