We didn’t talk much about it here, but over the weekend Shinzo Abe’s party won the snap elections which had been called in Japan, which means he is going to return to office. Abe has been trying to change Japan’s constitution to allow them to maintain a normal military force.
He has become increasingly concerned about Japan’s ability to defend itself in the face of Chinese aggression, and he is right to be concerned as China has been menacing and threatening the Japanese for years over the Senkaku Islands. The US has said it supports Japan’s claim to the islands and has promised to defend them as part of Japan’s territory.
In spite of Trump’s rhetoric about Japan during the campaign, Shinzo Abe has emerged as one of Trump’s key allies in the region. Abe has also worked with other countries such as the Philippines and India to try to create an anti-China front.
The more immediate threat to Japan, however, is North Korea, which often issues bellicose threats against Japan and shoots missiles over Japanese territory. Fear of North Korea boosted Abe during the election, and Abe clearly intends to carry through on his promises to protect Japan from the North Korean threats:
After his party won Japan’s snap election Sunday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had some strong words for the North Korean government.
“I believe this election was about, firstly, the North Korean threat. You can even say the North Korean threat is the biggest threat ever,” Abe told reporters.
Another article has more of his remarks:
Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo, Mr Abe said his coalition’s win was a “vote of confidence” from the public, and based on that “we would dramatically show counter-measures against the North Korea threat”.
He said he would discuss these measures with US President Donald Trump, who is visiting Japan next month, as well as with other world powers such as Russia and China.
He said they would exert “stronger pressure” on North Korea, adding: “I will make sure the Japanese public is safe, and safeguard our nation.”
It seems as though all the pieces may be falling into place for Trump to make some kind of move on North Korea, though what the move will be remains to be seen.