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Japan election: Abe hails massive win, but what now for the country's pacifist constitution?

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Japan election: Abe hails massive win, but what now for the country's pacifist constitution?

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Buoyed by his big election win, Shinzo Abe has vowed strong “counter-measures” against North Korea.

The victory saw the Japanese PM retain his super majority, strengthening his long-time goal of changing Japan’s pacifist constitution.

He called the snap vote, in part, to “deal firmly” with the growing threat from Pyongyang.

“On the fifth of next month, President Trump is scheduled to visit Japan. He kindly called me by phone already today and when he visits Japan, we will spend time discussing the issues of North Korea and aim to confirm our close alliance,” Abe declared.

Nearly 80 percent of the seats won in Sunday’s election were won by parties which favour amending the US-drafted constitution.

Opinion polls, however, suggest the public in Japan remains divided over constitutional change.

Despite the scale of the win, Abe stopped short of claiming he had won a mandate to amend the country’s pacifist charter.

“We must explain it after reaching a concrete plan with the constitutional Commission, as I don’t see this general election as a reflection of public opinion regarding the revision of the constitution,” Abe said.

On paper, Article 9 of the country’s pacifist charter bans the maintenance of armed forces.

Japanese governments, however, have interpreted this to allow a military exclusively for self-defence.

Critics fear any change to the constitution will lead to Japan’s re-militarisation and an expanded role overseas.