National / Politics

Taro Aso explains comments crediting snap election win to North Korea

Kyodo

Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso has sought to clarify comments he made earlier in the week attributing the ruling party’s decisive election win last weekend to North Korea, after the remarks drew claims of exploitation from the main opposition party.

“It’s the government that decides how to address the series of threats from North Korea, so I believe the Japanese people chose the government or the combination of political parties that can best respond” to the issue, Aso told reporters after a Cabinet meeting Friday.

At a gathering in Tokyo, Aso, who doubles as finance minister, said Thursday that the ruling party’s election success was “clearly partly thanks to North Korea.”

Aso, who was prime minister between 2008 and 2009, is known for making verbal blunders.

Akira Nagatsuma, a senior member of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, now the largest opposition force, on Friday called Aso’s remarks “outrageous” and said he believes they suggest the ruling camp “exploited” the North Korean security threat for political gain.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party won 281 seats while junior coalition partner Komeito won 29, securing a two-thirds majority in the 465-member Lower House.

Also on Thursday, Aso called it noteworthy that “left-wing” forces, including the newly formed CDP, the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party, “have dropped below 20 percent” of all seats in the Lower House.

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