MANILA – Malacañang on Monday congratulated Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on his bloc’s election victory, saying this ensures the continued friendly ties between the two Asian nations.
“This fresh mandate augurs well for the excellent Philippine-Japan ties. We have many points of collaboration with our neighbor in the North, which include economic, socio-political security and defense cooperation,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
Abe's ruling bloc scored a big win in Sunday's election, bolstering his chance of becoming the nation's longest-serving premier and re-energizing his push to revise the pacifist constitution.
Abe's Liberal Democratic Party-led (LDP) coalition won a combined 312 seats, keeping its two-thirds "super majority" in the 465-member lower house, local media said.
A hefty win raises the likelihood that Abe, who took office in December 2012, will secure a third three-year term as LDP leader next September and go on to become Japan's longest-serving premier.
“We are therefore confident that both countries’ solid and strategic partnership would continue to gain greater strength in the years to come.”
Relations between Japan and the Philippines continued to flourish under President Rodrigo Duterte, even as the firebrand leader sought to enhance ties with Tokyo’s main rival Beijing.
The nationalist leader’s victory would also take him a step closer to his dream of revising Japan’s pacifist constitution, even as he seeks a greater military role in the region to contain Chinese ambitions in the East and South China Seas.
After his bloc’s election victory, Abe struck a cautious note on possible revisions to the US-imposed constitution, saying he would "deepen" debate in parliament on the divisive issue but not seek to ram anything through.
Any changes to the document must be ratified by both chambers of parliament and then in a referendum, with surveys showing voters are split on the topic.
Amending Article 9 of Japan’s constitution would be hugely symbolic for Japan, where supporters see it as the foundation of post-war democracy but many conservatives see it as a humiliating imposition by the US Occupation after Japan's defeat in 1945.
Concrete steps to change the charter would likely cause concern in China and South Korea, where bitter memories of Japan's past military aggression persist, although analysts said Seoul's new government might refrain from direct criticism given the need for cooperation over North Korea's missile programs. – with Reuters, AFP