Japan’s Abe to 'firmly deal' with North Korea as coalition heads for election win

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), answers questions from journalists. Credit: PA

The ruling coalition of Shinzo Abe is heading for a win in Japan's national elections.

Media projections revealed the victory shortly after polls closed on Sunday, with Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner Komeito on track win a two-thirds majority in the Japan's lower house.

Speaking to local media, Abe promised his incoming administration would "firmly deal" with North Korea.

In unofficial results, the ruling coalition had gained 312 seats in the 465-seat chamber. The final results are expected to be announced on Monday.

Should the two-thirds predictions hold, that would give Abe's coalition a supermajority in both the upper and lower houses, and a free hand to push through controversial policies, including Abe's long term aim of revising Japan's pacifist constitution.

In the short term, voters can expect a continuation of current policies, including a hard line on North Korea, close ties with Washington and push for nuclear energy.

Abe said the result suggests voters support the coalition's policies.

"I think the results reflected the voters' preference for a solid political foundation and their expectations for us to push policies forward and achieve results," he told NHK.

"As I promised in the election, my imminent task is to firmly deal with North Korea.... For that, strong diplomacy is required," he added.

Abe dissolved the lower house in September to force a snap election amid rising approval ratings and an opposition in disarray. His gamble briefly looked questionable amid the launch of the new Party of Hope, led by popular Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike.

However, her party has so far won just 49 seats, a result Koike called "very severe."