U.S. President congratulates LDP chief on winning election

America’s president was fast in recognizing the Democratic Party of Japan’s landslide victory over the ruling Democratic Party of Japan in Sunday’s Lower House election.

“I congratulate Liberal Democratic Party President Shinzo Abe on his party’s success in the elections in Japan,” said U.S. President Barack Obama.  “The U.S. – Japan alliance serves as the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific and I look forward to working closely with the next government and the people of Japan on a range of important bilateral, regional and global issues.”

Obama’s remarks came following the LDP’s smashing victory in which together with ally New Komeito picked up a two-thirds majority in the Diet’s Lower House.  Obama also sent his appreciation to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, whose party was soundly defeated, for his contributions to the bilateral relationship.

The return of the LDP to power leads many U.S. policymakers and analysts to welcome the conservative leadership of Abe. Observers are hoping the new government will be taking a stronger security role in Japan.  Some observers are concerned, though, that Abe may have his hands somewhat tied by the cautious stance of New Komeito, the junior partner in the alliance.  The New Komeito is backed by the major Buddhist lay organization Soka Gakkai.

Abe is expected to increase defense spending, particularly for the Japan Coast Guard.  Abe’s indicated he might re-commission destroyers and other Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels as Japan Coast Guard ships to deal with China over the Senkaku Islands dispute.